Let us be wise. Let us not go by total impact the highway has today. Let us also consider impact tomorrow and beyond. Where can we put this road that will be and do the best good? Take out the emotions. Take out the heartache. And consider the following:
Those who are impacted today, will they be impacted tomorrow? Homes generally stick around. Farms are often swallowed up by developments. Especially ones within city boundaries. Put a highway next to a home. That home will stay. It usually has no choice (north side of Antelope drive between 1000 and 2000 W is prime example) to turn into something different. Put a highway next to open space, and opportunities abound.
How much will the road cost? Tax payer monies have to be on the table for consideration. With the government (local, state, and federal - all three) already in dire straights and no light to the future, cost must be on the table. Our kids are already burdened with our debt. Grandchildren too. Probably great grandchildren and beyond. Adding more debt now needs to have caution considered greatly. Also, as this is a regional highway, not a city route, will UDOT and the state consider our needs over the rest of the region? Cost will play a direct roll in how roads connect up with different cities.
What is the end result? Do we just want an intersection? Do we want the space around the highway blighted? Add a highway next to homes and you will see rentals go up and values go down. What home owner wants to end up next to a highway? We could, however, leverage the highway for good. Put it down a corridor free of homes and plan it around businesses or commercial properties and the highway becomes your friend. Access and visibility are key in successful businesses.
Safety and logic must go into this now to work in the future. Trying to get over I-15 on Antelope drive? You have lights every 100 yards in one place. Traffic flow is worthless. Bad traffic flow generally means bad location for business (even worse for residents). This is the same at Hill Field Road in Layton. Or West entrance to the Air Force Base in Clearfield. When you have that many cars, what is pedestrian usage like? Non-existent. Because who wants to battle life and limb over a car? Let alone a hundred more.
Economics. Some say we need it. Some say we don't. We need it to keep taxes down if we add the amenities that residents want. Want a park? And have it kept up? Costs money. Want better roads or roads that are will taken care of? Need money. Or do we? So what if it takes 20 years to get our parks in place. We don't need to be built out now (though some people think we should have it all now). The fact that the road is going to take away people from our current economic corridors is true. We won't get as many people driving through Syracuse. Some people aren't sure that is all that bad. Walmart, however, will be a destination spot. So is Smiths. They anchor their respective corners. People don't go there just when they drive through to Antelope Island. They don't stop only on the way home from work. As more residents continue to come to Syracuse, those areas will continue to thrive. But we must consider the economic options to where the highway crosses our arterial roads. Will we have the room to design space that works well for businesses? Will it work with creating commercial spaces that will impact our bottom line, yet mitigating impacts on residents? Questions we must ask.
Regional transportation. We must remember what we are doing. This highway is for regional transportation, not for the simple good of our city. We must consider the broader picture and understand the needs of the state and the surrounding communities if we want to make a real impact on their decision. We don’t get to make this decision, just suggestions and information. If we consider items too far out of our control, we have no control at all.
Open Space/additional parks. Residents want parks. They don't like to pay for them, but they want them. We already have a lot of space along the Bluff. Adding a road on Bluff takes these away. You won't have the system that is very unique to Syracuse - parks connected together by a trail system - close to the city center - accessible to many - many amenities already. A real asset to the city.
Traffic patterns. Where are people going and coming from? How will it change with a new highway? Will the roads be able to handle the traffic? Will they go in a direction that creates flow or will it create traffic jams?
Future Developments. The city has stated that at full build out – meaning at full capacity when all lands are used for building, we will be close to 35,000 residents. That is another 10-12,000 more people. What amenities will we need at that point? There has been much talk among many residents in wanting a swimming complex. If we want to continue to pull in the current demographic in the city, we will need office space and light industrial buildings to secure jobs for people. This must be taken into consideration as a highway goes in. Where will it be? How will the traffic work? Where do we want residents? How will these new developments gain access to the system?
Utilities. When it comes to water usage, water rights, canals, sewage, I admit to having little understanding. I know water flows downhill. I know that it can be piped, but these will need to be considered along with power, phone and other utilities.
Ad Hoc – There will be other issues that will arise. We need to consider these as well as all other issues that are about. Historic homes, historic farms, all must be considered and weighed before decisions can be made.
We need to consider these, and probably a few other impacts that aren’t here. My hope is that the City and UDOT will take all of this into consideration. As well as other residents who are considering our good city.