This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
There is a bully in our backyard. This bully will not listen to reason, logic, or even authority. Before you even really know the bully is looking at you, this bully is waiting in the shadows, planning and waiting for the perfect moment to sucker punch you. This bully formally goes by the name of Utah Department of Transportation, or UDOT, for short.
UDOT is planning the West Davis Corridor (WDC) a stretch of freeway that would be a continuation of the current Legacy Parkway. The problem with this is that multiple groups, including: scientists, economists, ecologists, physicians, residents, and yes, even the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are against building the West Davis Corridor.
But will UDOT listen? No, of course not.
Bullies do not play by the rules. In fact just last month they moved forward with purchasing a 284-acre piece of land in Farmington, spending $6.7 million of state corridor preservation funds. The odd thing about this is that "officially" according to UDOT, they are still in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process of whether or not to even proceed with the road and where to build it. Clearly, UDOT is preparing an EIS just for show, to demonstrate that they "play by the rules" when, in fact, what they really are doing is bulling forward with their preferred route, which just happens to be exactly where they purchased this land last month.
Playing a board game with a bully is exceptionally difficult when, as demonstrated above, the bully doesn't play by the rules. It is even harder when the bully doesn't listen to authority, or the other players. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is threatening to deny permits needed for the preferred route, as it would destroy too many Great Salt Lake wetlands. The list of those opposing the WDC goes on and on; from physicians worried about clean air and the health impact, to multiple special interest groups concerned about wetlands, oil runoff and byproducts, and other pollutants including light, air and sound that would cause irreparable damage to the thousands of birds and wildlife in the area. Economists warn against urban sprawl and the need for more patrol officers and the tax dollars involved in implementing a new freeway. Not to mention the residents who are concerned about home values, safety and health damages.
Will UDOT listen? Again, of course not. They don't listen to the other players of this game.
That is the reason I write this article. I am not a scientist or an ecologist. I am a stay-at-home mom in Farmington, concerned about home value and the health of my children. Plenty of people and groups are against the building of this corridor, but we are not winning the game against this bully of a player, who cheats and doesn't follow the rule book.
The thing is, it doesn't even need to be built. Farmington has ample transportation options, Highway 89, I-15, Legacy Parkway and Frontrunner, just to name a few. We have the pieces on the board, we are just not playing a smart game against this wealthy, stealthy, bully of an opponent. The above mentioned groups all support The Shared Solution; an option that avoids building a freeway entirely by improving existing roads and adding more mass transit. The Shared Solution is a smart way for us to play the game. All of the above mentioned groups are for the Shared Solution. It uses the game pieces we are already playing with, to maximize their use without causing so much harm to the environment, our health, our ecosystem, and our economics.
UDOT, this bully in our backyard, is playing a deceitful, harmful game. We must come together to fight this bully, outsmart this bully, and ultimately prevail.
Kristy Powell was born and raised in Davis County, received a bachelor's degree from the University of Utah and is a mother of three in Farmington.