Compromise Underway for Legacy Highway

Compromise Underway for Legacy Highway

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News Specialist John Daley reporting Salt Lake City's Mayor and lawmakers from Davis County, who've locked horns on the long-delayed Legacy Highway, announced moves designed to forge compromise in the future.

If necessity is the mother of invention, it may be the father of compromise.

On the bruising Legacy Highway fight, the state was determined to plow ahead over the objections of opponents, until a federal appeals court told state road builders their plans violated federal law.

For months UDOT insisted the road will be built, come what may.

But at this news conference today with Salt Lake's mayor and Davis County lawmakers, a new tone is set, one of compromise.

If lawmakers release $2.4 million in money owed to Salt Lake City, the Mayor says the city won't pursue future lawsuits over Legacy.

The sides agree to join in binding arbitration to resolve future logjams.

And UDOT says it will ask the federal agencies to open up the process to include conservation groups from the start.

Representative Stuart Adams, a republican from Davis County says, "So through this process, we've come up with basically what I feel is a win-win for everyone involved."

Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson says, "We all ought to be included in the process. Make sure that sequencind decisions, configuration, routing, all the environmental analysis, that we are all on board together and that we make sure that federal laws are abided by this time."

A spokesman for UDOT says the agency has agreed to the deal in principle, but he says federal agencies would ultimately make the final call to agree to binding arbitration.

For his part, Governor Leavitt had little to say about the deal today. "I wasn't present for the news conference. It sounds like the mayor needed a way to get out of an awkward situation, and he found it."

Conservationists say what's significant is that the public and various advocacy groups will now be involved from the start.

"So yes, I think it's significant if we can really involve the public involvement process," says Roger Borgenicht of the Future Moves Coalition.

Anyway you slice it, this is a major step in this story. It marks the first time the sides have reached a significant compromise, though, as always, the devil is in the details.

At today's news conference, the Mayor and Representative Stuart Adams both agreed the final solution for transportation in that corridor will rely on a combination of road improvements and enhancement of mass transit.

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