EPA Urges Denial of Southeast Connector Permit

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RENO, Nev. (AP) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is recommending denial of a federal wetlands permit for a highway bypass project planned for decades to connect south Reno to east Sparks and reduce interstate congestion.

The Regional Transportation Commission launched the first phase of the $250 million project a year ago and had hoped to begin the second phase this summer.

But the Reno Gazette-Journal reports the EPA says more study is needed because it could push mercury contaminant levels up in the wetlands south of the Truckee River.

RTC project manager Garth Oksol remains confident they can secure the necessary permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. But he fears if they are forced to do a full-blown environmental impact statement, it would mean a two-year delay and higher construction costs.