Appeals court sides with states, feds in bridges project lawsuit - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Appeals court sides with states, feds in bridges project lawsuit

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – An appeals court has upheld a federal judge's ruling that dismissed a lawsuit over the Ohio River Bridges Project.

The Louisville-based Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation sought the appeal last year after U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II determined that Kentucky, Indiana and the federal government followed the proper regulations while planning the project.

The coalition, which supports alternatives to the $2.6 billion, two-bridge plan, alleged that the governments made a number of “arbitrary and capricious” decisions that didn't comply with federal environmental law and violated the U.S. Civil Rights Act.

But the U.S. Sixth Court of Appeals affirmed Heyburn's ruling in an opinion issued last Thursday, writing that the project's 150,000-page administrative record contains no evidence to support CART's claims.

CART had argued, for example, that the governments failed to thoroughly look at environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions and runoff from de-icing products and didn't properly consider alternatives such as a light-rail line and only one new bridge -- in eastern Jefferson County.

READ THE COMPLETE RULING HERE

CART President David Coyte did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on Monday.

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said in a statement that the appeal court's ruling "affirms the hard work of our project team."

“The law has been scrupulously followed as we have assessed and documented the effect of the Ohio River Bridges project on the environment and population of the Louisville and Southern Indiana area," Hancock said.

"The project team is pleased with the court's ruling and we look forward to completing this important project," Will Wingfield, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation, said in a statement.

Louisville's River Fields and the National Trust for Historic Preservation brought the lawsuit in 2009 but settled their parts of it in early 2013.

Construction is underway on both new bridges – one downtown and the eastern crossing – and a reconfigured Spaghetti Junction interchange. Work is expected to be complete in 2016.

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