Bill to prolong heavy truck ban on Utah’s Legacy Parkway fails in senate committee

(KCPW News) Woods Cross Republican Sen. Todd Weiler’s SB119 meant to extend the ban on large trucks currently in place for the Legacy Parkway in Davis County. The original expiration date for that ban is January 1st of 2020. If the ban expires, it would end fifteen years of Legacy Parkway being a quieter alternative for commuters – and for the residents who live along the road’s edge.

The truck ban was one of a number of provisions stemming from the lawsuit-fueled design of Legacy, that also included a 55-mph speed limit, quiet rubberized pavement, and a smaller footprint: just two lanes in each direction.

Those stipulations were secured after a 2005 compromise between the state of Utah and conservation organizations who wanted to protect wetlands and wildlife along the proposed highway’s 11-mile length.

At a meeting of the Senate Transportation Committee on Thursday, North Salt Lake resident Joanne Hansen spoke in favor of Sen. Weiler’s proposal. She said she was worried that lifting the truck ban would impact safety in the area.

“The proximity of this highway to the trail system – which is exactly parallel and adjacent to it; the homes, the parks and the schools that have built right on Legacy Parkway…there is not a buffer there, there are only chain-link fences or a tiny cable,” she said.

Foxboro resident Angie Keeton was one of a number of Davis County residents in attendance wearing stickers that read “save Legacy Parkway.” Like others she expressed concerns about the proximity of schools, parks and trail systems, as well as the potential for a decline property values if the ban is lifted. Keeton told members of the committee that she bought a house near Legacy without knowing that the prohibition on heavy trucks would expire.

(Roger McDonough | KCPW | Jan. 14, 2019) Davis County resident Angie Keeton stands beside a bike path along Legacy Parkway. Keeton wants to see the ban on heavy trucks on the road preserved. The ban is set to expire Jan. 1, 2020.

“We moved into our home just 3 years ago and I learned the truck ban would expire just 6 weeks ago,” she said.

“Like me, I’ve found that about 90 percent of the residents I’ve spoken [to] since then had no idea about this ban.”

Speaking in opposition to SB119 was Rick Clasby, with the Utah Trucking Association, who said that the industry had waited long enough to be able to access Legacy.

“We expect that that deal be honored, and that we have the opportunity to use that highway,” Clasby said.

For his part, bill sponsor Sen. Weiler said residents in his district motivated him to run the bill. Weiler has previously said that the temporary extension of the ban would at least give people living along the parkway a two-year window to consider moving.

Before a final vote was taken, Lehi Republican Sen. Jake Anderegg said he was concerned that the bill was setting a bad precedent.

“This is the reason the agreement was put in place to begin with,” he said. “Why are we coming [with] urgency now as opposed to sometime over the past 15 years?”

“The leaders that represent these areas could’ve been working on this during that time,” Anderegg said.

Ultimately the bill received support from just one member of the committee, that of Salt Lake Decmoratic Sen. Kathleen Riebe.

While Sen. Weiler’s bill to extend the truck ban by two and a half years failed, that’s not the end of the story. North Salt Lake Republican Rep. Melissa Ballard is drafting a House bill that purportedly would extend the Legacy Parkway truck ban by 5 years. That bill is as of yet unnumbered.

However, in a phone call after the hearing, Roger Borgenicht, from Utahns for Better Transportation, one of the litigants in the original lawsuit that made Legacy, Legacy – said that the legal finding from that lawsuit meant that the truck ban would have to stay at least until further studies could be conducted.

“The record of decision is very clear that in 2020 [the Utah Dept. of Transportation] ‘could consider the need,’ to raise the speed limit and allow large trucks,” Borgenicht said.

“I don’t want to jump to conclusions here, but if they don’t do a study and establish that need it seems to me the record of decision says the truck ban will be continued.”

That could point to the Legacy Parkway ending up right back where it started – in the courts.

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