By: Natalie Gochnour
First published in the Deseret News
I’ve been sharing a simple statistic to illustrate the magnitude of Utah’s recent population growth. If you combine natural increase (births minus deaths) and net in-migration over the last five years, Utah has added a population larger than the population of Weber County, Utah’s fourth largest county.
It begs the question: Can we preserve Utah’s life quality and continue to sustain high levels of population growth?
I argue we can, but it will require courageous leadership and bold investment that focuses on transportation. We have done it in the past with large investments like the I-15 rebuild in Salt Lake and Utah counties, Legacy Parkway, FrontRunner commuter rail, TRAX light rail, the Salt Lake City International Airport (ongoing) and other projects. Each generation of leadership must make 30-year investments to keep Utah thriving. For this reason, I wish to share four big transportation investments — some immediate and some long term — we need to make if we want to preserve our quality of life.
1) Extend light rail to the Adobe campus and Utah Valley University.
The drive from Draper to Pleasant Grove looks a bit like a war zone right now. Commercial real estate development to support Utah’s burgeoning tech industry leads the way, but so does the myriad transportation improvements being made. It’s causing inconvenience now, but it’s well worth the trouble. I think we