[REGIONAL NEWS] Public’s views on Utah’s inland port will help ‘shape’ the project, officials say

Aerial photo of the Salt Lake Valley including the new prison under construction, inland port area, Kennecott Copper tailings pond, refineries and recent Bountiful fire scar as seen on Sept. 12, 2019./ Francisco Kjolseth /Tribune file photo

By Taylor Stevens | The Salt Lake Tribune

Months of listening to Utahns about their views on a controversial international trading hub planned for 16,000 acres in northwestern Salt Lake County reveal “widespread confusion” about the agency overseeing it, fears about the project’s possible impacts on air quality and wildlife and concerns over transparency.

Jack Hedge, the newly appointed executive director of the Utah Inland Port Authority Board, said these findings will help “shape” the board’s policy discussions and ultimately determine how the project moves forward.

But “getting the outcomes that Utahns want” will take more than just the port authority, argued Ari Bruening, chief operating officer for Envision Utah, which prepared and released the report Thursday as part of wider public engagement process on the development.

“The outcomes here are going to be the result of a lot of different actors,” he said. “You have private landowners who are developing under city zoning, you have  businesses operating here, trucking companies, railroads. And decisions of all of those people are going to affect air quality, traffic, habitat, wetlands and economic development.”

As part of Envision Utah’s public engagement process, the organization convened dozens of stakeholders and surveyed more than 3,000 Utahns online. Air quality emerged as the No. 1 worry, but there was also “strong concern” about the port’s impacts on wetlands, habitat, wildlife and water quality near the Great Salt Lake and about a perceived lack of transparency on behalf of the Utah Inland Port Authority Board.

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