So the committee cochairmen, Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, and Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, announced they decided that if appropriators fund any of the four requested earmarks, the money will come from general funds instead of transportation funds.
Harper explained that lawmakers usually do "not tell the [Transportation] Commission what to do with their fund once they get it."
Among funding requested was $393,000 to build a suspension bridge for pedestrians to connect the Jordan River Parkway with West Valley City's Cultural Celebration Center. That request was filed by Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, and Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton.
Adams, a former chairman of the Transportation Commission, defended seeking such an earmark saying that funding formulas used by the panel occasionally do not measure well the social need of some projects that are important so occasional earmark requests are appropriate.
Current Transportation Commission Chairman Jeff Holt said in an interview that he would prefer that all projects go through its review process because its formulas slice through politics to ensure that the most needed projects are funded first. However, he says he does not mind a few earmarks "as long as it doesn't get out of hand."
Also requested was $1.2 million to widen 7200 South from four lanes to six between I-15 and 700 West. It was sought by Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy.
Eliason also asked for $750,000 for a new parking lot at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Sen. Pete Knudson, R-Brigham City, sought $700,000 for a pedestrian/bicycle tunnel under I-215 at about 5100 South in Taylorsville. Rep. Johnny Anderson, R-Taylorsville, told the committee that project would better connect communities and trails.
The committee plans to work on prioritization of requests over the weekend, Harper said.