Utah lawmakers push for tax hike for transportation

| 8/23/2004

Officials in Utah are warning that the state’s economy will be “crippled” unless taxes are raised for transportation.

The group, which includes state lawmakers and business officials, is also calling for the advancement of a 30-year plan for construction of new transit and transportation systems.

“We cannot wait until 2030” to build new transportation systems, Lanie Beattie, president of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, told The Salt Lake Tribune. “It will cripple the economics of the state.”

Speaking Aug. 18 to members of the state’s Legislative Transportation Interim Committee, Beattie was adamant that lawmakers, transit and transportation officials work together to prevent a future congestion crunch in Utah.

John Inglish, general manager of the Utah Transit Authority, told the newspaper the population along the Wasatch Front is expected to grow by an additional 1 million people in the next three decades, and development of transit systems and corridors is critical.

Plans from UTA include the extension of light and commuter rail.

Plans from the Utah Department of Transportation call for the construction of the Legacy Highway – a 120-mile freeway that would run from Nephi to Brigham City – and expansion of other highways, roads and bridges.

These plans must be pushed forward at least 10 or 20 years, and lawmakers must be willing to allocate funds for development, Beattie said.

State Rep. Marda Dillree, R-Farmington, agreed, recommending that transit and transportation officials talk with new legislators about the need for tax increases to fund development of a unified, statewide transportation system.

“There are going to have to be (tax) increases in some areas to address this issue,” she said.