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Monday, November 07, 2005

Legacy: Debunking A Few Myths

By Senator Sheldon L. Killpack and Representative J. Stuart Adams

There exists no shortage of so called facts and opinions floating around regarding the Legacy Parkway Agreement. While we have no qualms with those who oppose the settlement we hope there is good intent to represent the facts accurately.

Many of our constituents have expressed specific concerns and opinions we wish to address. Unfortunately much of their information is a result of listening to recent radio ads and prominent personalities, who may not have all their facts straight. The following is a summary of their statements and our response:

“The parkway will be constructed with three foot, unsafe shoulders.”

This is False.
Nowhere within the agreement can you find this provision. The radio ad by USET making this claim refutes the settlement based on sticking with “principle.” It is misleading rhetoric at best and a ploy to create anxiety. In fact, it states in 5B(2)(c) of the agreement “UDOT retains authority to take steps as necessary and appropriate to assure safety on this and other roadways of the State.” Safety will not be compromised in the design of this road; especially not on the shoulders.

“This agreement sets precedence for future lawsuits.”

We disagree. This agreement will not represent a crossroad in time for precedence. The federal government has already paved a freeway of precedence for environmental groups (and equipped their vehicles with lights and sirens) within the current NEPA process and within the Clean Water Act. Until we change Federal Statute the Courts will continue to give ear to these groups based on the laws of the land. The sad reality is we will be faced with future law suits with or without this settlement unless something changes at the Federal level.

“We are not getting the road we want.”

The road is being built on Alignment E - exactly where we want it.
The road is being designed to carry traffic at freeway speeds as per UDOT standards. Materials used will accommodate all truck traffic. In just over 10 years after the completion of the parkway, all restrictions go away. We will have a road that facilitates traffic at freeway speeds and is capable of carrying all the truck traffic you can shake a stick at.

“This doesn’t help commerce.”

In what world? If I-15 were to shut down tomorrow in South Davis County where would you send the commercial truck traffic? The current answer is nowhere. Within the settlement agreement UDOT and UHP have sole discretion to determine what constitutes an emergency and can move truck traffic onto Legacy, a viable alternate route, allowing commerce to continue. Amazingly enough, if we were adding HOV lanes to I-15 in the same corridor it would be hailed as a good thing yet trucks would not be allowed on the HOV lanes. In fact, you can’t even legally pull a trailer behind your SUV in HOV lanes. Let’s give a true reflection of exactly how much traffic the truck restriction will impact: as a percent of freeway traffic around 4 percent of all vehicles (trucks over with five or more axles or over 80,000 pounds) will be restricted on this parkway until 2020. By moving 30 percent of the traffic flow from I-15 to Legacy however, commerce will have much more road capacity.

“A 55 MPH road does me no good.”

When commuting to the Capitol City in stop and go traffic, our speeds range between 0 and 25 mph. We would give blood to go 55 miles per hour.

There is clearly a lot of pent up frustration over this drawn-out battle. No one understands these emotions more than we do. However, there are some hard realities that cannot be overlooked. The state is already facing a conservative 16.5 Billion dollar shortfall in funding road infrastructure through the year 2030. Once this project becomes too expensive you hand the environmental groups everything they want - no road at all. We have far too many needs throughout the State and we simply don’t have the resources to waste. The delays have already cost the taxpayers over $200 million dollars. One of the clear principles or responsibilities we face is being accountable with the tax payer’s money. It is time to move on and get Legacy built. The settlement is good for commerce. It is good for the taxpayer. It is good for Utah.

This op-ed piece was published in today's Deseret Morning News, and highlighted in the Utah Policy Daily.


Anonymous The Senate Site said...

From the Monday Buzz section of today's Utah Policy Daily:

‘Tax a Trucker’ Campaign

Be sure to check out the op-ed in the Morning News by Sen. Sheldon Killpack and Rep. Stuart Adams, who refute an earlier op-ed by Rep. David Ure opposing the Legacy Parkway agreement. Ure’s op-ed was full of misleading statements put forth by a front group for the Utah Truckers Association, which is trying to kill the agreement. The group, called USET, has been running radio ads against the agreement. Here’s a suggestion: If the truckers manage to kill the agreement, setting back the Legacy Parkway another five years with more lawsuits, let’s form a citizen’s group with the mission of raising taxes on big trucks. The revenue could be dedicated to defending the Parkway from further litigation. Anybody want to join?

11/07/2005 12:47 PM  
Anonymous The Senate Site said...

Lane Beattie, CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber (and former President of the Utah Senate), also published an op-ed on the Legacy Highway Agreement. From Sunday's Salt Lake Tribune:

Time is now for Legacy Parkway
Lane Beattie

The time to put away differences about the Legacy Parkway has arrived. No more finger-pointing. No more calling names. No more costly delays. No more complaining about environmental groups or our political leadership. It's time to shake hands, roll up our sleeves and get the job done.
It's been a long, hard and costly fight. I know because I live in Davis County, own property along the corridor and was president of the Utah Senate when the project was first proposed. Despite the state's best efforts, we've been caught in a legal stalemate for four years and the cost of construction delays and court battles has been excessive.
The choice now is clear: We can settle the case and begin construction this spring, or we can go through another appeal that would cost at least $100 million and another two years of delay. The prudent choice is to proceed. Our economy and quality of life can't wait any longer.
Just think of it this way: Crowded roads increase transportation costs and wreak havoc on our quality of life. Commuters are stuck in traffic and the trucks that transport the commodities we buy waste time on overcrowded roadways. Businesses pay more, consumers pay more and families get less. And since the greater Salt Lake area is the heart of the state's economy, a stalled truck anywhere along the I-15 metropolitan corridor affects businesses in Moab.
And it's not just commerce. Soccer moms are stuck on crowded roadways, too.
The day the Legacy Parkway opens, 30 percent of the traffic on I-15 will divert to it. Many Davis County residents will experience free-flowing traffic for the first time in years. And, it will all be done in an environmentally sensitive way.
We can complain about specific aspects of the agreement. It's always easier to criticize than to make genuine progress. The agreement includes restrictions that are unpopular to many, including me. But compromises had to be made. A take-no-prisoners attitude may feel good, but it doesn't really solve a thing.
In numerous meetings over the past few years, barriers have been broken down and serious philosophical differences have been acknowledged and set aside for the greater good. Commuters and other residents will get a beautiful parkway that meets a vital


transportation need and includes (and protects) world-class wetlands and trails. Davis County residents will benefit from a $2.5 million transit study. There will be no billboards on state-owned lands along the corridor, but private property owners will still have the opportunity to permit outdoor advertising if they choose. Trucks with five axles or more that weigh more than 80,000 lbs. will also be prohibited. The speed limit will be posted at 55 mph.
I like some of these outcomes, but not all. The trucking restriction is a huge concern as the demand for freight services in our state is rising rapidly. While the Legacy Parkway will reduce congestion on I-15 and provide travel-time savings for truckers, we will need to continue to look for ways to facilitate trucking transportation. An absolutely necessary and hard-fought component of the settlement was that local delivery trucks and small trucks will be able to use the Parkway. Additionally, all trucks will be allowed to use the Legacy Parkway when there are emergency incidents on I-15.
We should acknowledge the contributions of the Utah Department of Transportation, legislative leadership and Davis and Weber County members of the Utah Legislature, the Sierra Club, Utahns for Better Transportation, Friends of the Great Salt Lake and others for working out an acceptable compromise.
Credit must also go to Gov. Huntsman for his willingness to compromise for the sake of agreement.
The charge for the Legislature is to end the Legacy Project impasse for the betterment of our state. On behalf of Utah's largest business association, I strongly encourage the members of the Legislature to vote in support of the Legacy Parkway settlement so that the project can proceed without further delay.
Lane Beattie is president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber.


11/07/2005 2:26 PM  
Anonymous Roland Henrie said...

Myths not mentioned above

The few truckers cause negligable congestion: FALSE
Because of disportionate rate of acceleration and deceleration and height between autos and Truckers, truckers on a congested highway cause stop and go traffic on the highway. This stop and go traffic will remain in the center of Salt Lake because it isn't convenient for the truckers to bypass it. The speeds will remain the same and the stop and go pollution will remain the same. Until truckers can bypass Salt Lake Metro the alternates will be mostly empty roads. Those few Trucks make a big difference.

Commuter Lanes work:FALSE
Anyone who has lived in California can tell you that HOV lanes do not work. During rush hours they remain mainly unused. They are only full when there is an accident and the few people using them can't get through. We pave millions of acres of unused land. Land which could be supporting trees and wildlife.

55MPH is the optimal speed for saving fuel:FALSE
Every vehicle is different. The pressure of air on a vehicle goes up with the the square of the speed, but the overall effect is different depending on the shape of the vehicle and the gear ratios. In general the optimal speed is when the engine is running smoothly in the highest gear. There is no one speed. In a well maintained V8 this will often be higher than 55MPH.

55MPH Save Lives:FALSE
The highway deaths increased when the 55MPH rule was established and in decreased significantly when it was removed. Why? The less time you are on the highway the lower your chance of dying. 65MPH and even 75MPH have been shown to be safer than 55MPH.

Conclutions? This Legacy Parking Lot will cause more deaths and waste the time and money of more people than any of the original Legacy plans. The stop and go pollution will remain the same as it is now or increase. By the way, those are just a few of the missing facts.

11/08/2005 9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am all for the Parkway, but why would you shake a stick at traffic, and just how much truck traffic can one shake a stick at? When I-15 was built, I'm sure lots of sticks were shaken and yet it is unbearably congested.

11/08/2005 10:05 AM  

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