After reading local newspaper reports of the 1987 Logan Canyon Highway
scoping meetings, I noticed assumptions were made on the part of some groups that
the majority of local residents were opposed to any extensive modifications to the
highway. In talking with a number of Logan City residents, I received conflicting
reports and strong indications that many Logan City voters did not agree with those
assumptions and that the scoping meetings were not a true barometer of local feelings.
In fact, some felt that the scoping meetings reflected a stacked deck in favor of the
opposing viewpoint. At the urging of a number of local residents, I decided to find
out for myself by conducting a telephone opinion survey of Logan City voters who
voted in the 1987 elections. Although it wasn't intended to be mailed out, the first
draft of the questionnaire was sent by Cache County Chamber of Commerce leaders to
chamber members and returns were tabulated and results presented to that organization.
After the questionnaire was criticized by the local newspaper(particularly one writer)
as being biased, I contacted a former Utah State University Sociology Professor, Dr.
William DeHart, who had considerable experience with survey questions and format, to
review the questionnaire and assist me in eliminating or reducing possible bias. I
spent a number of sessions with him in fine tuning the questionnaire before I conducted
the telephone opinion survey. I also discussed the questionnaire with Dr. Steven
Daniels, formerly of the Department of Forestry at USU, who offered some valuable
suggestions. It seemed ironic to me that the local newspaper should accuse me of
bias when they, themselves are guilty of incredible one-sided, biased reporting on
the highway issue. I guess one should always first identify the color of the snake
in the grass before striding too far. After obtaining a list of Logan City residents
who voted in the 1987 elections, I randomly sampled 208 voters by personally
telephoning them and asking the survey questions. I chose to personally telephone
participants to reduce bias and to ensure consistency. I did not solicit any
additional responses although many expressed appreciation for the contact and offered
additional opinions. Of those who offered additional opinions, I asked if they had
attended any of the Logan Canyon Highway scoping meetings. Not one answered in the
affirmative. Their reasons for not attending ranged from "I don't like to argue"
to "a lack of time" or "conflict in schedule". Some were concerned that "no one
would listen anyway". I consider this a clear example of "the silent majority
syndrome". In retrospect, they have only themselves to blame if the opposing
viewpoint receives credibility. My feeling is that this group of people does not
write letters to the editor, tends to avoid controversy and does not like to attend
meetings, yet many have strong opinions about important issues and appear to exercise
their voting privilege. Perhaps that's why politicians who consistently campaign
door-to-door and contact this group of people tend to get elected.
Some of the more often expressed comments included:
I would like to see the road widened to include shoulders so that a vehicle
could be stopped completely off the road in the event of an emergency(flat tire,
stalled vehicle, etc.). This is especially a problem in the middle section of the
canyon between Right Hand Fork and Ricks Springs where shoulders are extremely
narrow or nonexistent. To increase enforcement of the current speed limit would
create a safety hazard unless shoulders were widened to permit a vehicle to stop
completely off the road.
Straightening some curves in the middle section of the canyon would not necessarily
increase speed but would contribute to a more even speed and flow of traffic.
As important as the environment is, there are other issues of equal or greater
importance including highway safety, snow removal, access to recreation areas
(Beaver Mountain, Jackson Hole, Yellowstone Park, Bear Lake, etc.), maximum
utilization of the canyon, emergency vehicle and hospital access for Bear Lake
Valley residents, and economic development potential by providing Bear Lake Valley
residents and beyond better access to local merchants.
There have been enough studies of Logan Canyon Highway. The money spent could be
better utilized in making needed modifications. According to UDOT engineers, there
have been two environmental studies of the highway since 1975 modifications were
completed. Approximately $50,000 was funded in 1978 to conduct an environmental
assessment to continue modifications from Right Hand Fork to Ricks Springs. The
current study, started in 1986, is a full environmental impact statement and has
cost approximately $620,000 to this point. Recently, an additional $86,000 was
appropriated to finish the study. More money will have to be allocated to
publish the final document. It's interesting to note that the reconstruction of
a two-lane highway based on 1975 dollars would cost about $500,000/mile and about
$l,OOO,OOO/mile using 1988 dollars. These figures are according to the March 88
issue of Engineering News Record(ENR). According to UDOT, the Summer average daily
traffic (ADT) in the canyon is about 3500 vehicles and peaks at about 500 vehicles
per hour. The Winter ADT is about 1800 vehicles.
I'm tired of a few pseudoexperts using strong-arm tactics to impose their will
upon the majority. We have the organization and the structure in-place in the
form of UDOT and their consultants to consider all issues including the
environment and highway safety and design. Let's use the existing structure and
rely on the real experts who are being paid out of tax dollars and get out of their
way so they can do their job. I took the time to examine the background and
expertise of the UDOT personnel assigned to the Logan Canyon Highway project.
Everyone of them have significant training and experience in environmental
planning and highway safety and design.
Acceleration and deceleration lanes would be useful at major campgrounds and access
roads such as Spring Hollow, Malibu/Guinavah, Temple Fork, Right Hand Fork, Wood
All you need to do is drive Logan Canyon and you're immediately brought to the
reality of the hazards and of taking your life in your own hands.
Let's fix the highway so it's safe to drive and quit worrying about having to
transplant a few flowers and trees. While a four-lane highway through Logan
Canyon is neither appropriate nor necessary, extensive modifications are needed.
Although a minority, Cache Valley groups opposed to highway modifications are a
well organized and extremely vocal coalition. They are living proof that the
squeeky wheel gets the grease. But in the same vein, let's not forget that the
empty wagon rattles the most.
I approached the CPA firm of Hancey, Jones and Wright and asked if they would
compile the statistical information for the survey. They offered to do that as a
public service and are here today to make the presentation to the Municipal Council.
I also contacted Dan Jones who explained that he samples about 6% in his opinion polls
with excellent results. I sampled about 6% of the population in my opinion survey.
With that report, I'd like to ask Gary Jones and Carl Law of Hancey, Jones and
Wright to give the summary report of the survey.
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