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Ex-governor says Utah inland port will be taken for granted

A section of land looking south east at 7200 west and I-80 that is part of the proposed Utah Inland Port in Salt Lake City on Monday, July 16, 2018. Gov. Gary R. Herbert was joined by legislative and local elected leaders to discuss consensus recommendations for the Utah Inland Port during press conference at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Monday, July 16, 2018. (James Wooldridge, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Former Utah governor Mike Leavitt sees the Utah inland port as an economic advantage — saying people will take it for granted as part of the state’s economy in the future.

Leavitt, a Republican who served from 1993 to 2003, says the port will help Utah maintain prosperity. But for now, he says it remains an odd political controversy.

“There were protests. There were all the things you see today in particular discussions,” he said at the Utah Economic Outlook & Public Policy Summit put on by the Salt Lake Chamber. “But it’s now part of a foundation of Utah’s population.”

At the summit, Leavitt focused on the political and economic risks that proved to be successful for the Beehive State: hosting the Winter Olympics and transforming into a high tech hub.

The Utah inland port seeks to maximize Utah’s position in the global import and export economy. It will provide a network of trucks, trains and air connections — which has provoked protests against the potential negative environmental impacts.

Opponents of the port say the project would increase air pollution as well as increasing truck and rail traffic along the Wasatch Front.

The Salt Lake Chamber outlined its priorities for the upcoming legislative session, which includes plans to sustain Utah’s business and economic environment. It also looks to strengthen education funding and outcomes as well as closing the housing gap.