THE 630 PROJECT: Shown in DOT photo.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said today that federal Judge James Moody had properly rejected a request to halt work on the Interstate 630 widening project for failure to first perform an environmental impact statement.

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The Arkansas Department of Transportation, which is widening I-630 between I-430 and University Avenue, had said an environmental impact statement wasn’t required because the work fell within the existing right of way. The 8th Circuit said the plaintiffs in the public interest lawsuit had failed to prove the department finding was erroneous and that the department had acted arbitrarily.

Applying the plain language of the regulation, the district court concluded that
[plaintiff George] Wise did not present evidence to establish that the area required for the I-630 project required expansion beyond the existing operational right-of-way. Wise has offered calculations regarding the additional area required for the project’s new traffic lanes and expanded clear zones, and he contends that “basic mathematics” render not credible Wiley’s testimony that the I-630 project will take place within the existing operational right-of-way.  But Wise again incorrectly limits the term’s definition to travel lanes, shoulders, and clear zones, and he has not shown that the additional area previously had not been disturbed or maintained for transportation purposes. We thus conclude that Wise has failed to show that the district court relied on any clearly erroneous factual findings in denying Wise’s motion for injunctive relief.

Wise also argued that the project would have significant noise and air pollution impact.  But the court said Wise had failed to produce evidence this claim could succeed on the merits so the judge was correct to refuse an injunction to stop the work.

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The work has proceeded since Moody denied the injunction in July 2018.

 

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