Let me preface my comments by emphasizing that this subject I’m addressing in no way equals, or even comes close to, the many Tooele County employees that lost their jobs or have been impacted in some way. There are some things that are worse, but losing your livelihood ranks pretty high. My hope is that you will be able to quickly gain employment again.
The county’s decision to destroy the Faust Road and turn it back to gravel is stupid in my opinion. I don’t think it needs to be done. It will have a huge economic impact not only on the residents of Vernon and the surrounding area, but also on the town. For those of us who have to travel to Utah County or the southern part of Salt Lake Valley to go to work, or for other reasons, will have two options, neither of which is very appealing: We can travel across Faust on a gravel road and continually pay for front end alignments, flats, ruined tires and have our vehicle shook to pieces, or spend the money on the fuel and tire wear to travel almost 20 miles farther to go all the way to the junction of SR-36 and SR-73 near Penny’s.
With the price of fuel today, an extra 40 miles a day can have a real impact on one’s budget. Having traveled to work over a dirt road for more than 35 years, I know the toll these roads take on a vehicle. The impact this will have on the Town of Vernon will also be great. The enticement to those individuals and families that would like to move out of Utah and Salt Lake Counties to enjoy the rural life style Vernon has to offer, and still keep their jobs in the city, will decrease because of the daily trips across 11 miles of gravel road.
Home sales, which are already struggling, will decrease along with our property values. Banks will be less likely to grant loans, because if the loan is defaulted, they will be scared they can’t sell the home. Even the younger generation that grew up in Vernon, and would like to return after school and marriage, will have a tough decision even if they can get a loan to buy or construct a home.
One of the reasons the county says it has to tear up the road is because of safety. But I can guarantee that accidents on the road will dramatically increase. When the road was gravel before, there was always someone rolling their vehicle. The other reason is the lack of funds to fix the road and it will be easier to maintain if it’s gravel. With all the budget problems Tooele County is having this year, why would they spend money to rent a milling machine, spend a month’s worth of labor right now to tear up a road? I just can’t see that it will take more money to fix three bad spots and fill some pot holes than it will to mill up all the asphalt for 11 miles and do all the grading and haul all the gravel to make the road travelable. The numbers just don’t add up right and it just doesn’t make any sense. You would think they would be trying to get by with the least amount of expenditures but no, they are spending who knows how much to tear up a road. The Mormon Trail Road is also in poor condition and the funds that have been expended on it has been a lot more than the Faust Road, but no one is looking to mill it up and turn it to gravel.
We are not looking, asking or expecting a major reconstruction or repaving of the road. All we ask is that a few pot holes be filled and the bad spots dressed up a little and leave the rest of the road alone. I am willing to donate my time and will even bring my own shovel to fill potholes, and I know there would be others that will do the same. All we need from the county is a truck full of asphalt. I can’t help but think and wonder if any of the county’s leadership had to travel this road daily what the outcome would be.
I know our numbers are few that live in the southern part of the county and I understand that the money goes where the people are, but we do pay taxes, too. Living there for some 30 plus years, sometimes it almost seems if any small amount of funding starts to flow over Stockton Pass in our direction is like the dike that’s sprung a leak and it has to be plugged up.
This decision, along with all the other ones the county has made, are not temporary; once the asphalt is gone there will never be enough money to repave the road. For this reason, I ask the commissioners to re-examine their decision regarding Faust Road. At least make a trip to Vernon, meet with us and explain why this is the only option. We in the Vernon area are the residents of the county that use the road the most. Wouldn’t it be a common courtesy to do so?
Kent Sagers is the mayor of the Town of Vernon