Friday, March 11, 2005

Legacy Highway Debated

The Daily Debate features an interesting debate on the Legacy Highway between Roger Borgenicht, a founding member of Utahns for Better Transportation, and Representative Stuart Adams (R-Layton). Look, everyone has already made up their minds on this issue (a January Dan Jones poll showed that 63% of Utahans favor the highway), but it’s interesting to see how the other side thinks.

As I read the points of Messrs. Borgenicht and Adams, it seems that they both agree that the Wasatch Front transportation problem requires both improved mass transit as well as new roads. They strongly disagree on how this is to be accomplished and on the timing of the needed projects. Borgenicht wants mass transit built first and denies that we have a crisis. Adams points out that we have a crisis that needs to be fixed now (as anyone that regularly commutes through the corridor of interest can readily tell you), and that mass transit is only a piece of the solution.

The debaters also have markedly differing viewpoints on community design. Mr. Borgenicht advocates a top-down approach that more or less forces communities to become tighter and more walkable enclaves that are connected by mass transit. Representative Adams advocates the American tradition of pushing decisions on community design down to the local level and letting the people govern themselves.

I think Representative Steve Urquhart (R-St. George) gets it right in his blog on the issue. He says, “To me, this is a no-brainer. Legacy is going to be built. It is simply a question of how much time and money will be wasted between now and then. Already, the delay has cost the State hundreds of millions of dollars, and, as people idle in traffic, the delay contributes to air pollution and wastes who-knows-how-many man-hours.”

I agree that this is a no-brainer. Every time there is a major incident that shuts down I-15, we end up with thousands of people stuck on the road and heavy traffic on adjacent community roads that were not designed to bear the load. We need a backup route. We also need a route for vehicles that are not traveling to Salt Lake City to bypass it instead of driving through it. We need mass transit that moves people to and from central destination points at critical times.

It’s clear that we’ve got to do both things. The question is, how much more time and money are we going to waste while unelected elitist groups attempt to exert their power over the will of the people?

1 comment:

JB_blog said...

As a daily mass-transit commuter from Davis County to SLC, there is nothing that makes my blood boil like the Legacy Highway issue. The need for both options (mass transit and a second freeway option) is so blatantly obvious, I am baffled that anyone who routinely travels this corridor would claim differently.

Last Friday (3/11/05) I caught a bus home. Traffic was so congested on the freeway, our driver decided it would be faster to drive through North Salt Lake and Bountiful via Highway 89. Upon arriving at the first light, some unwitting driver smashed into the back of the bus, leaving about 60 people stranded for over an hour while the scene was investigated and further congesting traffic. If there had been another option - any other option - this accident could have been avoided.

Another example is the recent chemical spill on a nearby railway. With no other options for I-15 drivers, traffic ground to a halt for hours.

Now we are informed that the lack of a second corridor from Davis County to SLC could be one of the deciding factors in closing Hill Air Force Base.

I understand members of the greener-than-thou coalition want to force everyone to use mass transit before another freeway is built. However, what about those who cannot use mass transit because of their job (i.e., truckers)?

It also irritates me that we (Davis County residents) are already being taxed for a mass transit (light rail) system that has yet to be built. I'm uncomfortable with government taking taxpayer money for some pie-in-the-sky project that has yet to begin.

The need for the Highway is long overdue. The Ogden Standard Examiner published a great editorial on this subject last year: http://www2.standard.net/standard/31123/ (must have account). By preventing the completion of this highway, Rocky Anderson, the Sierra Club and their ilk are committing what is tantamount to financial terrorism.