BY REBECCA PALMER
FARMINGTON — The city council and mayor here are criticizing the Utah Department of Transportation over the agency’s plan for West Davis Corridor.
UDOT wants to build the highway through Farmington at Glover Lane, according to its draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) released in May. That could slice Farmington in half without providing enough benefit to residents there, critics and now, elected officials, say.
The city’s primary complaint is that UDOT failed to adequately consider conservation easements through which the planned freeway would pass. They also question whether it’s needed at all.
“The problems with the DEIS are significant and far reaching enough that a new or revised DEIS must be underatken before a final EIS (environmental impact statement) may be underatakend,” reads a talking points document released Tuesday.
City officials plan to submit an expanded letter of at least 30 pages to UDOT by Friday, Sept. 6, the day on which public comment closes. In preparation for sending the letter, the city hired Jeffrey Appel, of the Ray, Quinney and Nebeker firm, as a consulting attorney.
“Based on the information in the DEIS, it is currently unclear whether this project is needed for the region at all in 2040 and it is clearly not needed at this time in Farmington City,” the talking points read. “An outdated transportation paradigm may have been applied here and in the modeling, which needs to be corrected.”
City councilmember Cindy Roybal kept her comments limited Tuesday, but said she thinks the grassroots group Shared Solutions will be happy with the city’s letter. Shared Solutions is opposed to both the draft plan map and to the freeway’s being built at all.
UDOT is likely to think differently.
“I think that when UDOT review our comments, they are not going to like some of the things they see,” said Farmington Mayor Scott Harbertson.
“At this point with the public comment period still active, it would be inappropriate to weigh in on any specific comments,” Gleason said. “Really we want to be fair to everyone involved and make sure our people have time to read, address and evaluate the comments.”
A final decision won’t be made by the federal highway commission until 2014, so all options are on the table, including not building at all. However, UDOT believes the road is necessary.
“Obviously, we see the need for transportation solution here and so that’s why we put forward our recommendation,” Gleason said. “We see that here is a need here with the continued population growth and need for transportation in the area.”
Shared Solutions activist Todd Jenson attended Tuesday’s meeting.
“I’m just glad that Farmington City is taking a position against UDOT,” he said. “They’re not just letting UDOT bulldoze through the city.”
He had criticism for the county, however, especially in regard to its support letter for the UDOT plan.
“The county commission just talked to the economic development guy from the county and there was never any input requested from the community,” he said. “It’s just sloppy and reckless planning.”
Harbertson said the city did not consider the Shared Solution plan in its recommendation. The complete letter is expected to be posted on the Farmington website at farmington.utah.gov on Thursday or Friday.
*John Gleaspon is UDOT spokesman. His name was listed incorrectly in an earlier version of this story.