Environmentalists sue over proposed highway in North Carolina

Michael P. Tremoglie Aug. 29, 2012, 10:00am

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Legal Newsline) - The Southern Environmental Law Center sued the North Carolina Turnpike Authority and the Federal Highway Administration Tuesday on behalf of conservation groups challenging the environmental review of the proposed Garden Parkway toll highway.

The suit was filed on behalf of Catawba Riverkeeper and Clean Air Carolina. The groups allege that the turnpike authority and the FHA performed a defective analysis of the environmental effects of the proposed toll road and presented a misleading picture of the costs and benefits of the project.

The proposed 22-mile toll highway would run through Gaston County at a cost of $930 million. According to the environmentalists, the highway would destroy numerous homes and communities, fragment wildlife habitat, pollute the Catawba River basin and add to the area's air pollution.

"The Charlotte region continues to be plagued with air pollution problems affecting the health of our residents," said June Blotnick, Executive Director of Clean Air Carolina.

"As we work to improve the quality of life in the region, the one thing we don't need is a 22-mile highway bursting through our rural countryside increasing vehicle emissions and sprawl."

The environmentalists are making many of the same claims in their complaint about the highway as they did in a recent court victory challenging another highway project called the Monroe Bypass. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in May ruled against the Turnpike Authority in that case.

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