Plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging the billion-dollar Interstate 30 widening project have filed notice of appeal of a judge’s ruling against their effort to stop work until there’d been a sufficient study of the environmental damage of the project.
Federal Judge James Moody Sept. 3 rejected the arguments of plaintiffs including neighborhood associations and others for an order to halt construction until a full environmental impact statement could be prepared. The state contends it has done a sufficient environmental assessment, if not a formal impact statement.
Today, plaintiffs gave notice of appeal and also asked the judge for a preliminary injunction against further work on the project pending the appeal. The work is underway, though the full scope of the project won’t be known until voters decide on a highway sales tax increase on the ballot Nov. 3. It would provide roughly $350 million for cost overruns on the project, originally estimated around $650 million. The project will be “phased in,” the Arkansas Department of Transportation has said if voters don’t approve the permanent half-cent sales tax increase devoted solely to highway construction.
The rules require the plaintiffs to first ask the district court for the preliminary injunction. Since Moody has already dismissed their chances of succeeding on the merits of the lawsuit, odds are he won’t order a halt to the work. But the plaintiffs then can go to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals for an injunction.