Legacy Highway Study Nearly Finished

Legacy Highway Study Nearly Finished

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The state's transportation chief told lawmakers Thursday that a new environmental review of the Legacy Highway project will be finished this fall.

John Njord, Utah Department of Transportation executive director, told members of the Transportation, Environmental Quality and National Guard appropriations subcommittee that while a 2002 legal defeat slowed Legacy Highway construction, "it's hardly fading."

Njord said the new environmental impact study reviewed every aspect of the first EIS, which the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected. The court issued an injunction to halt construction.

The court ordered UDOT to consider changing the alignment for a 14-mile segment that begins in North Salt Lake to one less damaging to Great Salt Lake wetlands. Njord said the new EIS also is examining how to integrate and sequence alternate transportation options such as commuter rail and buses.

Njord said he expects further court challenges from "antigrowth people" in Weber County, but predicted eventual victory. "We will move at posthaste speed as soon as we are able to do so," he said.

In the meantime, regional and state transportation planners are pushing ahead on the second Legacy Highway section which would run 9.4 miles from Farmington to Syracuse, the state's fastest-growing city. It could be finished in less than 10 years.

Syracuse more than doubled in population, from less than 5,000 residents to nearly 10,000 during the 1990s. Clinton grew by almost 60 percent to more than 12,000 people and West Point grew 42 percent to more than 6,000 residents.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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