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Sunday, November 06, 2016

Ind. Gov't. - More on "Illiana continues on slow road through courts"

Updating this ILB post from Nov. 4th, this story from the same day by Zak Koeske of the Chicago Tribune has a somewhat different take. It is headed "Environmental groups happy with judge's ruling on Illiana Tollway project." Some quotes:

Environmental groups that oppose construction of the Illiana Tollway are celebrating a second federal court judge's ruling that the Federal Highway Administration's 2014 approval of the bi-state project was invalid.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Norgle found Tuesday that portions of the project's proposal that relied on its already legally invalidated foundation also were invalid.

The environmental plaintiffs — Openlands, Midewin Heritage Association and Sierra Club Illinois — had challenged both the Tier 1 and Tier 2 environmental impact statements and the federal government's "records of decision" greenlighting the 47-mile highway project through Will County. * * *

"The federal district court has now twice ruled in favor of the environmental plaintiffs that the Tier 1 and the Tier 2 Environmental Impact Statements are legally invalid," said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, which challenged the tollway project in court on behalf of the environmental plaintiffs.

"Enough is enough. It's time for [the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Indiana Department of Transportation] to stop wasting public officials' time and taxpayers' money and bring this to an end."

Shortly after taking office in January 2015, Gov. Bruce Rauner suspended planning and development of the $1.3-billion Illiana project, which aims to connect Interstate 55 near Wilmington with Interstate 65 near Lowell, Ind, as a truckers' alternative to Interstate 80.

While the project remains on hold in Illinois, Indiana is set on seeing it through.

In April, INDOT agreed to fund a new environmental impact statement to comply with the court order in an attempt to keep the controversial project alive. * * *

For Learner, the best path would be to drop the project entirely rather than redraft the environmental impact statements to comply with federal environmental law.

"If they do their job right," he said," it would likely show that the tollway is not economically justified or environmentally sensible.

"The better approach would be to stop wasting taxpayers' money and time and bring the boondoggle to its well-deserved end."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 6, 2016 10:08 AM
Posted to Indiana Government