NORTH SALT LAKE — Some residents and advocates who see a scenic byway in their backyards threatened by the impending expiration of a truck ban met Wednesday night to brainstorm ways to protect the road.
"I felt like this Legacy Parkway is a gift for all of our communities across the Wasatch Front," Rep. Melissa Garff Ballard, R-North Salt Lake, said during the panel at Foxboro Elementary School in North Salt Lake.
Two bills — one sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, and one by Ballard — that would have extended a longstanding ban on trucks on the route failed in February during the Legislative session.
Legacy Parkway is a more than 11-mile stretch in Davis County known for its quiet, meandering path near wetlands, wildlife and fields of blooming sunflowers in the summer. But the highway is slated to open to trucks of all sizes starting Jan. 1, 2020, when the 15-year ban ends.
About 50 community members, leaders and lawmakers attended Wednesday's gathering at an elementary school near the parkway, some wearing sunflowers pinned to their shirts as a show of support.
During the meeting, many speculated about how trucks on the road and a possible increased speed limit could impact surrounding communities. They also expressed fears that the presence of trucks could negatively impact popular parks and trails in the area.
Some vented frustrations that they felt their wishes were ignored by lawmakers from other communities.
According to Woods Cross administrator Gary Uresk, "We were beat up by other legislators because they said, 'Why are you special in Davis County? Why do you have a highway that doesn't have trucks, and we can't?'"
"They viewed us as spoiled brats," he said.
But Uresk and others emphasized that the road is not only an asset to Davis County, but to the state.
"Which highways in Utah go next to the Great Salt Lake and all the inherent and natural wildlife things it has," Uresk said. "And that's why this highway is special."
Angie Keeton, founder of Save Legacy Parkway Citizens Committee, which hosted the event, questioned whether allowing trucks on a road that runs nearby the elementary school and homes will cause safety risks.
She recalled seeing a semitrailer carrying oil catch fire recently on I-15 after it was hit by a car and wondered whether similar incidents could endanger the community's children.
But Jason Davis, a deputy director with the Utah Department of Transportation, addressed some of the panelists' concerns, saying that a recent study showed that trucks would make up less than 10 percent of traffic on the road.
He said his department would take measures to ease those concerns, including building a tall concrete barrier and using asphalt instead of concrete, which creates more noise.
After the panel discussion, residents in attendance separated into small groups to discuss their concerns and suggestions with officials.
Ann Floor, a member of Utahns for Better Transportation and a Salt Lake resident, told the Deseret News, "We want to keep the flowers blooming."
"To just automatically say nope, it's going back to a freeway. It just doesn't make sense when all these people built their homes right along the side of it, and they'll all be impacted by the noise and the danger," she explained.
"On a Saturday or Sunday, just take a walk along the trail or a bike ride. And the birds are incredible, the birds that are out there. It's just this wonderland that so many people don't even know about."
Dorothy Owen lives in the West Point area of Salt Lake City. But she said, "For maybe a lot of people, I think they see this as just a Davis County, but it really has to do with all the issues that deal with the inland port and the preservation of the Great Salt Lake."
"It's called Legacy Parkway for a reason. It's because it was to preserve a legacy of the community. And what we're seeing now happen is something that was very important to us seven years ago is being dismissed," Owen said.
Roger Borgenicht, co-chairman of Utahns for Better Transportation, compared the parkway to one that runs through Zion National Park.
"Going on the parkway, the slower speed and the lack of trucks and the preserve out to the west, and the people along the trail, whether they're in strollers or bikes or whatever," he said. "It is different."