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Today's word on journalism

March 17, 2009

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1863-2009

"Can Seattle's oldest newspaper be successfully transformed into a child of the information age? The Northwest is a land of big dreams. With the demise of the Soviet Union, one quipster noted that Puget Sound is now home to three empires still bent on global dominion: Microsoft, Amazon.com and Starbuck's. If the stars align properly and with a quality product, Seattle will show the way to a new model for journalism of the written word."

--Joel Connelly, columnist, in today's final print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Editorial Comment: And when the newspapers die. . . .

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North Logan must start over on 200 East bypass paperwork, UDOT says

By Alice Bailey

February 16, 2009 | NORTH LOGAN -- After eight years, the city will have to begin the process to receive federal funds to build 200 East all over again, according to the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT).

The Cache Metropolitan Planning Organization (CMPO) started talking about building an alternate route to help with traffic flow on Main Street about 10 years ago, says Jeff Jorgensen, city administrator.

He said the initial plan was to solicit federal funding for the project which would cover about 93 percent of the costs, but the process to get that funding involved an environmental impact statement that is taking much longer than expected.

"This is an easy project. There's nothing out there," Jorgensen said. "There's a road that's already been used there, a dirt road, so it's not like we're going through pristine wilderness are or something like that. There's no bald eagles that are going to be displaced. It's just crazy."

The statement was created by J-U-B Engineers and initially contained around 12 alternative routes, which through a process of public review was narrowed down to four options, and then finally down to two. One route goes almost directly from 1400 North to Hyde Park Lane, while the other takes a small detour around the west side of the Thomas Edison Charter School, and cuts through the Eccles Ice Center parking lot.

"Each one of them has some good and some bad to it, so there's no option that comes out as the best one," Jorgensen said.

The preferred option, which is the straighter of the two, goes through a neighborhood that would be affected by the 99-foot right of way road and the speed at which the cars traveling it would be going. This would be helped by the two round-abouts that would be placed at the north and south ends of the neighborhood to slow traffic.

The plan for the round-about at the north end would cut into the parking lot of the ice center, which has caused the ice center's board and the county to refuse to sign a needed statement saying that the route has minimal effect on the center.

To resolve this problem, the round-about has been planned to move a little northeast, which would actually help with the flow of traffic out of the parking lot at the ice center, but because it has been moved further from the neighborhood, the desired speed reduction might not be as effective.

The route that heads further west would have an even larger impact on the ice center parking lot, taking out an entire corner on its attempt to return to 200 East.

Hyde Park Mayor David Kooyman said, "When the ice arena was built it was built with the knowledge that the road, 2nd East, would be on the east side of the ice arena, and our parking would be on the south of the ice arena. As soon as the feds came in and said, 'we're going to have you use 6B,' it caused all kinds of concern with the county council, with the cities."

Kooyman said the more government you get involved in processes like this, the more complex it becomes. There are several other problems that have arisen through the process to gain this federal money.

"It's also compounded by the problem that this land down here around the Eccles Ice Center and where the corn maze is," Jorgensen said, "is all owned by the county and it was given to the county to be recreation land by the federal government years and years ago, because at one point they were going to move the fairgrounds out here.

"But they're not going to do that anymore, but this has to be used for recreation. Because it was federally donated land it has to go to another agency of the federal government to approve putting this road through it."

Because North Logan wants to build its city center on 200 East, the project of city development would be greatly benefited by the construction of this road, but the process would probably take about six to seven more years through this process. The city has therefore gone to the county to find alternate means of acquiring the needed funds.

"There was vote a year and a half ago or so where the citizens on Cache Valley said they would have an additional quarter-cent sales tax that would be dedicated to roads," Jorgensen said. "We got the county to agree to use some of the quarter-cent sales tax."

Attorneys have told the city that any attempt to start construction without a finalization in the federal process could be seen as an attempt to influence the decision, but at this point, the city doesn't seem to care.

"I met with the UDOT people," Jorgensen said, "and said, well regardless of which decision is made, we're still going to have a 2nd East, even if this road goes in, we're not going to just have no road here, so by us putting a road from there to there it doesn't preclude them from doing this."

The plan now is to use development money to build about four blocks of road to help with the city center development. The road would be started this summer and would only contain three lanes but could expand to five and continue on to Hyde Park if federal funds ever come in.

Kooyman said he think that might take longer than expected, "The next problem is that even though the feds are providing the money, there isn't the money to do the whole thing. The money's not there, and who knows when it will be there. So we're in a position where we might be working on something that's not going to get done in ten or twenty years."

NW
MS

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