Lawsuit Against Southeast Connector Dropped

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

RTC response to lawsuit:

 
The Upper Southeast Communities Coalition has filed suit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the RTC regarding the SEC project and seeking to halt construction currently underway. The complaint is riddled with inaccuracies and misinformation. The RTC has diligently followed federal, state and local ordinances and applicable law, and has acted at all times in accordance with the Corps’ direction and process. The RTC has developed an environmental mitigation plan that increases the amount of wetland area over current levels, complies with local flood ordinances, does not increase flood risk to homes, addresses and helps contain historic mercury contamination, and improves emergency access and safety, in addition to a number of other environmental benefits.
 
To claim as the Coalition does that “homes will be flooded” by the project is not only baseless, but reckless and irresponsible. For the last six years the RTC undertook a deliberative and thorough planning process and met with individuals and organizations to hear their concerns and address their issues through redesign of the project. The SouthEast Connector brings important and necessary transportation, mobility and environmental enhancements to the community. The RTC will vigorously defend the project because of the proper process we followed, and will not hesitate to correct the misinformation being disseminated by the Coalition.
 
Details regarding the Clean Water Act Section 401 and Section 404 Permit Application, our response to the Notice of Intent to Sue, and factual information about the SouthEast Connector can be readily accessed at rtcwashoe.com or SouthEastConnector.com.

STAFF UPDATE, 9/24/2013:
From an RTC statement:
The Regional Transportation Commission was informed today that the Upper Southeast Communities Coalition has voluntarily dismissed its federal lawsuit seeking to stop construction of Phase I of the SouthEast Connector (SEC) based on alleged violations of the Clean Water Act. The RTC says this withdrawal is not surprising, because at no time did the RTC ever violate the Clean Water Act (CWA) or any other federal requirement.

A statement from the Upper Communities Coalition reads:
With written assurances from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) in hand that Phase 2 of the controversial Southeast Connector (SEC) is not a done deal, the Upper South East Communities Coalition (Coalition) today agreed to drop its attempt to stop Phase 1 of the SEC. The Coalition had been concerned that the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County (RTC) had, by starting on Phase 1 without federal permits, locked itself into a route for the SEC that would raise flood risk in the region to unacceptable levels. The project has long been a point of controversy, with residents and businesses citing safety and environmental concerns over the route selected for the highway.

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RENO, Nev. (AP) - Critics of a major road project linking southeast Reno to Sparks have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to halt construction.

The suit filed Monday in U.S. District court argues environmental effects were improperly assessed, putting the public at risk.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that the lawsuit demands the Regional Transportation Commission and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stop work until adequate environmental reviews are complete.

Critics argue the project raises the risk of potential flooding of nearby homes and exposure to harmful contamination from mercury-laden Steamboat Creek.

The suit also says it damage sensitive wetlands and habitat of the threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout.


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