Sunday, November 27, 2005

What I was getting at with the roads

Utah is ridiculously wasteful when it comes to spending on roads. The Legacy Highway debacle, which we all have been instructed to blame the environmentalists for, is testament to this. Legacy was never meant to be just a transportation solution but a catalyst for land development. The use of belt routes for the suburbs-on-steroids growth is as old as the hills, and in the misguided supply-side economics approach to improve this state's schools, roads - and the unsustainable development they bring - have been hailed as the ticket to economic prosperity. Somehow, someway, the Lege has determined that more strip malls and more subdivisions will equal unprecendented prosperity that will line Utah's public schools with the cash to fund us into educational utopia.

We're now seeing Legacy II played out in Southern Utah. The proposed St. George belt route, according to the Purpose and Need statement in the EIS, is needed to provide a reliable transportation connection between the cities of St. George, Washington, & Hurricane. What's interesting, though, is that this "connection" includes a detour way out into the desert. There are a thousand ways to meet the needs of Washington County that are alot cheaper than a brand-new, limited-access highway. An access road to the new airport, a beefed up SR 9 through Washington & Hurricane ( a limited access parallel perhaps?) , and a modest increase on I-15 would certainly fill the demand in the next 30 years, during which time the needed density increases could occur to hand the transportation issue over to mass transit. But the solution always has to be a new freeway and when it comes to UDOT's project management, the Lege is always gracious enough to give them carte blanche.


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