Thursday, March 24, 2011

West Davis Corridor - Part 1 - Situation and Arguments and Current Status

So last February UDOT came out with 3 options for the highway that is planned to come out to West Davis County. They were far west of our home. However, the Mayor and City Council are considering making a concerted effort to retrain UDOT's eyes on Bluff Rd, our road.

The first meeting the City Council had in March was attended by many individuals who is being impacted by the alternatives put forth by UDOT. Not many others attended, because those of us that liked it, didn't feel like we needed to attend.

So the city did some research and came up with additional alignments that would put the highway back along Bluff Rd, crossing Antelope Dr next to Bluff.

Tuesday night at the council meeting again and with it came, essentially, two groups. Those who want to put the route down bluff road and those who don't. About three hours of comments came from the public (to which, based on the response by the council members later, I am not sure they were even considering them – but I digress).

The argument for putting the highway down Bluff Rd
-It was already planned there.
-Don't take our farms - leave the farms and the heritage alone
-Don't impact the wetlands
-Economics - the further east the road is, the more we will be able to capture more retail/commercial space.

The arguments made for keeping the highway away from Bluff Rd
-The plan was 10 years ago when there was 9000 residents. 10 years later we have 24,000 residents and many of those are along Bluff or west - which weren't there before. Let's look to see if that still makes the most sense.
-Don't split the city into an East side and a West side
-Farms won't last. You build a highway and land prices in the area will go up (higher demand due to more accessibility to people who would like to move out here), more pressure will be to put the farms up for sale any ways. Don't impact those who won't be here.
-Don't impact the school or the kids. There is a school where one of the major intersections will be. Impacting the school and/or the school children, including safety.
-Don't impact the wetlands (there are wetlands along Bluff as there are all across the city.
-Impact a fewer amount of people. A road down bluff impacts a greater number of people.
-Cost - it will cost UDOT millions more going down Bluff than it would to go to another option. This is mostly due to the location of the school, but according to UDOT this would require moving Bluff road alignment, taking out homes - some of which are historical, and mitigating the school impact, which could mean moving it altogether.

And the list goes on further for both sides.

And here is the kicker. I don't think the council generally considered any of the comments that night. In fairness, there was a lot of messages on both sides and taking one side or the other would be difficult. Though I cannot be sure, it would seem that they really haven’t studied the issue out in their own minds, or are simply considering the heated exchanges rather than the words used. There was much said about this or that, but they weren’t using any method to come to a conclusion. They (the council members) didn’t have any criteria they were using to consider what was best. They wanted to 'study' it out a little more, which, again in fairness, they received information from UDOT earlier in the day that said an intersection at Bluff and Antelope Dr. is just about prohibitive because of all the major impacts. This was news to them (and news to the citizens) and they wanted to be able to understand it more.

In the end, the decision was made that they would put forward to UDOT that the City of Syracuse was for an alignment called C3 – an alignment that the City Staff put together as an option to follow UDOT’s path C, but change it slightly to come back to Bluff Rd and cross Antelope along the Bluff alignment.

My only concern is that they gave no reason other than that is what they were leaning towards. A very loose foundation to stand on.

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