Legacy Parkway is an 11.5-mile limited access, four-lane road that is located mostly in Davis County in the state of Utah. The Legacy Parkway begins at an interchange with Interstate 215 (I-215) in northwestern Salt Lake City and continues north to end at Wasatch Weave interchange. There are two intermediate interchanges along Legacy Parkway (in junction with route 500 South and State Route 105) providing access to Woods Cross and Centerville.
Project Type:Limited Access Road Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:34,720 Length (mi):11.50
Economic Distress:0.86 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):1124 Population Growth Rate (%):1.25
Employment Growth Rate (%):2.50 Market Size:1,408,965 Airport Travel Distance:14.9 Topography:21
Region:Rocky Mountain / Far West State:UT County:Salt Lake County & Davis County
City:Kaysville, Wood Cross, Centerville, Farmington, Salt Lake City Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:City N/A
Impact Area:From Southern Kaysville to Northern Salt Lake City, and between the Great Salt Lake and I-15 corridor Transportation System:N/A GIS Lat/Long:40.913008 / -111.910453
Initial Study Date:2000 Post Constr. Study Date:2013
Constr. Start Date:2001 Constr. End Date:2008
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2008 Planned Cost (YOE $):451,000,000
Actual Cost (YOE $):685,000,000 Actual Cost (curr $):741,460,012
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
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NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
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Legacy Parkway (designated as State Route 67) is an 11.5-mile scenic parkway located almost entirely in Davis County, Utah. Constructed amid many concerns over the destruction of 114 acres of wetland and the pollution of the Great Salt Lake area, this limited-access road runs along a narrow stretch of land between the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountains. The parkway runs parallel to and west of the Union Pacific and Utah Transit Authority (UTA) rail lines as well as Interstate 15.
The Legacy Parkway project was part of a shared solution proposed by the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), UTA, and the local community to address the future transportation demands related to projected population growth in both northern Salt Lake and other cities located in Davis County. Congestion mitigation was the primary motivation for this project.
The construction of Legacy Parkway began in 2001 but was halted because of lawsuits over the completeness of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Construction resumed in 2006 and was completed in 2008, at the cost of approximately $685M (in 2008 dollars). Businesses attracted to the area have created an estimated 1,165 jobs in Davis County and the City of North Salt Lake, as a direct result of the Legacy Parkway project. More than 80% of these jobs are retail and service-oriented jobs associated with new shops at the Station Park retail district in Farmington, northwest of Legacy Parkway. Education (7%) and manufacturing (4%) were the other two major sectors in the area that saw job growth attributed to the Parkway.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
The Legacy Parkway begins at the interchange with Interstate 215 (I-215) in northwestern Salt Lake City and continues north ending at the Wasatch Weave interchange, a triple junction with Interstate 15, State Route 225, and US Route 89, west of Lagoon Amusement Park in Farmington. There are two intermediate interchanges along Legacy Parkway (in conjunction with Route 500 South and State Route 105), providing access to Woods Cross and Centerville. The Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) is located 14.9 miles from Legacy Parkway, while the Union Pacific rail line runs almost parallel to Legacy Parkway from north to south.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Known as the garden spot of Utah, Davis County has numerous farms covering the southern part of the county. The county comprises 634 square miles, two-thirds of which is part of the Great Salt Lake. Only 299 square miles of land in Davis County is usable, making it the county with the smallest amount of usable land of any county in Utah, while still being the third-most populated.
During the 1990s, over 11,700 acres in Davis County were considered for rezoning; an average of 700 acres of land was converted from agricultural to residential use each year to address the significant increase in the population. Utah's double-digit population growth rate after 2000 was attributed mainly to the migrations into Salt Lake and Davis County. In 2000, more than 850 acres were changed to residential and commercial use.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, Davis County is considered by many to be a bedroom community, with 42.3% of its employed population work in another county. Historically, commuters from Davis County who worked in Salt Lake County frequently encountered traffic delays and bottlenecks during peak hours. The primary purpose of the Legacy Parkway was to alleviate this problem.
Between 2000 and 2013, employment in Davis County and Salt Lake County increased by 26.5% and 14.6%, respectively. This significant change in jobs in the two counties could be one of the factors that affected the population growth. From 2000 to 2013, Davis County experienced a 34% population growth, while population growth in Salt Lake County increased by approximately 11%.
Davis County maintained a constant share of the Wasatch Front’s population base from 2000 to 2013. In 2000, Davis County accounted for 14% of the population of the four Wasatch Front Counties: Davis, Salt Lake, Utah, and Weber. In 2013, Davis County’s share of the Wasatch Front population increased slightly to 14.6%.
The employment share of Davis County was only 9.7% of the four-county’s total in 2000. Salt Lake County held more than 50% of the population in 2000 while supporting more than 60% of the employment share among the four counties. Davis County is also home to some businesses; over 85,000 employees worked for 5,060 firms in the year 2000. These businesses include a combination of trade, services, and manufacturing industries, and provided more than half of all non-agricultural jobs in the county. The trade industry alone accounted for about one-quarter of all jobs, with government close behind, accounting for more than 20% of the total employment.
In 2013, the structure of the economy in Davis County changed, with government, retail trade, and healthcare becoming key industries. The biggest employer in Davis County is Hill Airforce Base (Hill AFB) which, with more than 15,000 employees, is a dominant player in the Davis County economy. Civilian employees are considered part of the service industry, and earnings of civilians at Hill AFB are almost double the state average. In 2013, the average weekly wage was $768 in Davis County and $916 in Salt Lake County, showing a more than 38% and 44% increase since 2000, respectively.
In the early 1990s, the state of Utah studied different freeways within the region to identify the best way to improve travelers’ mobility along Interstate 15 and other roads. The solution proposed by UDOT, UTA, and the local community was to widen I-15, improve commuter rail access in the area, and add a six-lane expressway parallel to I-15, to provide improved access between Davis and Salt Lake Counties.
In 1996, the newly elected governor Mike Levitt proposed building the Legacy Expressway from Davis County to Ogden City on the west side of Weber and Davis Counties. The concept of a highway west of Davis County has existed since the 1960s, but the project had been abandoned mainly because of concerns regarding its path crossing the Great Salt Lake wetlands and potential environmental problems. In 1997, Davis County re-considered the Legacy Parkway project with a revised alignment that would still improve access for commuters who travel daily between Davis and Salt Lake Counties, while reducing its potential adverse impacts to the protected wetlands.
The construction of the Legacy Parkway project was challenged because of its proximity to the protected wetlands of the Great Salt Lake. Potential hazards of the initial plan to wildlife and wetlands near the Salt Lake led to the involvement of the Sierra Club Foundation. As one of the largest environmental preservation organizations in the world, Sierra Club works with politicians to promote environmentally friendly and sustainable policies. To reduce the environmental impacts of this project, a compromise was reached between the state of Utah and Sierra Club, resulting in reduced road speeds (to reduce vehicle emissions and noise) and banning of trucks (to reduce vehicle emissions) on the highway, except in emergencies. To support these environmentally-oriented compromises, the project was reduced from a six-lane expressway to a four-lane parkway. This ensured reduced traffic volumes and speed, lowering potential hazards to the surrounding wildlife.
Construction of the Legacy Parkway started in 2001, but was halted after a federal appeals court ruled that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was incomplete, citing that alternative routes less harmful to the wetlands were not included in the study. One of the issues in the original EIS was related to the route alignment in Centerville, as the road plans for Legacy Parkway were further to the west and close to the wetlands. Therefore, a supplemental EIS (SEIS), completed in 2005, changed the alignment of the Legacy Parkway and increased the area to be part of the Legacy Nature Preserve on the west side of the route. Also, a trail system parallel to the Legacy Parkway was added to promote walking and biking.
Opposition from the Sierra Club and local communities primarily emphasized that the original Legacy Parkway alignment would have taken away or destroyed farms that have been in the same families for up to five generations, and endanger habitats of migratory birds. Eventually, the state of Utah and the Sierra Club, acting on behalf of groups opposing the entire Legacy Highway project, officially signed a compromise. Part of the agreement was to reduce the Legacy Highway from an initially proposed six-lane expressway to a four-lane parkway. Other changes to the original proposal included no billboards along the route, no trailer or trucks allowed on the Parkway (except in cases of emergency), and a 55mph speed limit. The speed limit would maintain the scenic parkway character of the route, decrease pollution, and increase safety for users of the trail path. Construction resumed in 2006 and was completed in 2008, at the cost of approximately $685M (in 2008 dollars) and a length of 11.5 miles.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
Because the Legacy Parkway provides an alternative option for commuters traveling between Davis and Salt Lake Counties, the improved mobility is evident, especially during weekday commuting periods. Before the construction of the Legacy Parkway, the I-15 corridor was originally the only highway that provided direct access between Salt Lake City and the cities of North Central Utah.
The traffic on I-15 increased from 104,700 vehicles to 130,950 vehicles between 2000 and 2013. However, interview responses indicated that travelers believe the Legacy Parkway project significantly reduced further increases in traffic on I-15 resulting in faster commutes than without the parkway, enabling them more time to spend with family than sitting in I-15 traffic.
In 2012, UDOT calculated that as many as 22,955 vehicles used the Legacy Parkway on an average day near its intersection with 500 South, and as many as 20,240 vehicles used it at its southern terminus at I-215. The Federal Highway Administration classifies Legacy Parkway as a MAP-21 Principal Arterial.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
Since 2000, the year before the Legacy Parkway project began, the state of Utah has undergone significant development, especially in retail businesses, commodities and residential. In the City of North Salt Lake, many residential areas have been developed after the opening of the Legacy Parkway due to the improved access to different employers in Davis and Salt Lake Counties. Centerville City, which is located east of I-15, has experienced significant development as a result of the project, including commercial development, such as movie theaters, and residential condos.
In Farmington, which is the seat of Davis County, the Station Park shopping mall was developed by Center Cal Properties, LLC as a direct result of the project. This shopping mall has more than 600,000 square feet of retail space and an event center. Residential apartments have also been built close to the Station Park shopping mall in Farmington. In west Kaysville, new housing communities and apartment complexes have been built as well, primarily due to the improved access to Salt Lake City provided by Legacy Parkway.
In the five-year period following the Legacy Parkway opening, retail businesses have experienced significant growth, especially near the Legacy Parkway access roads. Of the approximately 1,200 jobs created directly as a result of the Legacy Parkway project, more than 80% are retail jobs, while manufacturing and education hold the remaining share of the jobs.
Although the 2008 recession hindered development in the area, the Legacy Parkway project is mostly praised for relieving congestion along I-15. The Legacy Parkway reduced travel time to the Salt Lake International Airport for businesses that need airport access. Also, mobility for commuters who work in Salt Lake County but live in Davis County improved significantly, thereby increasing many developers’ interest in Davis County.
The Legacy Parkway trail from Farmington to Salt Lake City has become extremely popular because of its modern design and safety. Travelers on the Legacy Parkway trail can appreciate the scenery and it is seen as a tourist destination for the Wasatch Front area.
Not all developments in northern Salt Lake County and Davis County are related to the Legacy Parkway project. The construction of Legacy Parkway was one part of the UDOT and UTA’s proposed plan to improve mobility in the area. In Salt Lake County, the frontrunner commuter rail project and widening of I-15 also played a role in decreasing traffic congestion on I-15. Because of the truck movement prohibitions on the Legacy Parkway, the effects of the project on trade industry have been limited. The I-15 widening project north of Salt Lake County, scheduled to begin in spring 2018, is expected to support additional truck traffic on I-15. This anticipated improvement has already motivated some new developments in the Salt Lake Valley.
The developments along the Legacy Parkway were limited to its intersections. Because of the existence of wetlands and environmentally protected areas near the Great Salt Lake, the needed infrastructure base and supportive land use policies were not provided to encourage more development along the parkway. However, the popularity of the Legacy Parkway as a scenic byway to the Great Salt Lake provided financial incentives for tourist-related businesses (such as bike rentals or hiking tour centers) to establish and grow in the area.
Organization, Name, Title
Davis County, Barry Burton, Community & Economic Development Chair
Utah Department of Transportation, Grant Farnsworth, Traffic Mobility Engineer
Wasatch Front Regional Council, Douglas Hattery, Deputy Director
Sierra Club, Marc Heileson, Senior Organizing Manager
Case Study Developed by University of Maryland