So last night I took the opportunity to take the new Legacy Highway up to Syracuse to my sisters for dinner. And let me tell you this, I dont get it. It was somewhere around 12 years ago that Governor Mike Levitt proposed this highway and it is now just opening. From what I read it was officially given the green light 10 years ago, 2 years after the initial proposal, but was held up time and time again in court due to environmentalist and angry citizens, mostly from West Bountiful. I do not pretend to know all of the ins and outs of each sides arguments but after driving up the 10 mile or so stretch I just dont get it. It is an ugly stretch of land, very ugly. All of the precious "wetlands" that the environmentalists were trying to protect, I couldnt find. There was a pond near the north end of the road, but that was the only wet thing I could find and that didnt even look like a natural pond to me. And as far as the arguments that the wonderful people of West Bountiful voiced, for the most part the road runs by absolutely nothing. A few neighborhoods here and there. But seriously, how can people argue over better transportation?
I will say this though, riding on a brand new, fresh paved road that has been open for less than 24 hours was nice. It was very smooth and quiet. It took me the exact same time to get to my sisters as it always had, but this of course was on a quiet Sunday evening. I imagine that the rush hour traffic is where the good people of Davis County will truly see the benefits.
In order for this road to be built there were several compromises that UDOT had to agree to. First they had to agree to make the road narrower than originally planned, which they did. But it is very obvious that is not what they see the future of the road to look like. They narrowed the road down to two lanes each way yet actually are taking up the same amount of space. They just left about 50 feet or so untouched in between the two directions. The bridges also are constructed in a way that they will easily be able to go in and add another lane each way in the future without having to rebuild the bridges much like along I-15. So is that really a compromise? The other compromises I dont see as being a real big deal for UDOT to deal with, big rigs are not allowed on the highway, they must stick to I-15, no big deal at all, and they had to agree to a bike/run trail that runs the length. That one was easy enough, just lay down some extra asphalt on the side and put a stripe down the middle of it. I did see several people taking advantage of this, but I cant see why, like I said, it is an ugly place and I imagine at certain times of the year it is bug infested.
The biggest draw back of the road to me is that the speed limit is 55 yet it is constructed just like a freeway. There are on and off ramps, no stop lights and no intersections. Oh, and dont try and speed down it. I saw 5 cops with people pulled over to the side last night. I think they realize that they can easily fill their quota on that road alone. This lower speed limit is really annoying to me, its like having a really nice juicy steak laid in front of you yet you cant eat it, you just have to stare at it and smell it. Not fair. Oh, one more note, and this might be one of those points that the environmentalist got right, I saw several dead animals on the road, I would say at least a dozen, and keep in mind it had only been open for 24 hours. This apparently was a foreseen problem because I saw a "Highway Animal Control" Vehicle out on clean up duty.
What would I rate the new Highway: 79. I will let you figure out the scale.