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Environmental groups lob new suit at I-69 work

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An Indiana environmental group once again is attempting to stop construction of the Interstate 69 extension between Evansville and Indianapolis by filing suit in federal court.

The Hoosier Environmental Council and Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads brought their complaint Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis seeking to overturn a permit the Army Corps of Engineers issued for the $3 billion project.

The groups say the agency failed to comply with a section of the Clean Water Act because it approved a permit to discharge about 225,000 cubic yards of fill material into wetlands and streams in Greene and Monroe counties without considering less-damaging alternatives.

“In its own rules, the Corps has determined that 'most wetlands constitute a productive and valuable resource, the unnecessary alteration or destruction of which should be discouraged as contrary to the public interest,’” the environmental groups argue in their suit.

A spokeswoman for the Louisville division of the Army Corps of Engineers said the agency is aware of the lawsuit but cannot comment on pending litigation.

The complaint targets what’s known as Section 4 of I-69, which extends 26 miles from the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center to Bloomington. Construction on the stretch is under way and should be finished by the end of 2014 at an estimated cost of at least $532 million.

The portion of roadway will cross 18 waterways, affecting about 88,000 linear feet of water and filling more than 9 acres of wetlands, the groups argue.

The odds of halting work on the new terrain route appear long, however. Three sections of I-69 extending from Evansville to Crane already are finished.

In addition, the latest lawsuit is the Hoosier Environmental Council's third legal attempt to halt construction on the 142-mile link.

In February 2011,  and again the following October, HEC filed similar suits seeking to halt work on two now-finished sections of the interstate.

Last July, federal Judge Larry J. McKinney denied the first challenge. HEC since has appealed the judge’s decision to the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago.

A decision on the second suit is on hold pending the outcome of the appeal.

Once the section to Bloomington is finished, work is set to begin on the two remaining sections stretching from Bloomington to Interstate 465 on the south side of Indianapolis.   

A lack of funding threatens completion of the remaining sections, though. The southernmost part of the road has been funded in part from proceeds of the $3.8 billion lease of the Indiana Toll Road.

The Indiana Department of Transportation has designated more than one-third of its entire federal highway aid this year toward building the 27 miles between Crane and Bloomington.

A report INDOT filed with the Federal Highway Administration states that 36 percent — or $281.3 million — of the $791 million Indiana will receive this year in federal road funding has been allocated to this stretch of I-69 in 2013.

That’s in addition to the $70 million in state highway funds budgeted in 2013 for Section 4.
 
 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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