A lawsuit challenging the sufficiency of study of environmental issues for a billion-dollar widening of Interstate 30 through Little Rock has asked the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the work while a lawsuit continues.
Federal District Judge Jay Moody denied a request for an injunction, favoring the view that public interest would be served by shaving a few seconds off commute times and that plaintiffs weren’t likely to prevail on their arguments about environmental, neighborhood and traffic impact.
Richard Mays, attorney for plaintiffs in the public interest lawsuit by several groups and individuals, has now appealed.
He notes that the state is mobilizing to begin work and substantial harm could be done if it proceeds without a chance to argue on the shortcomings of the environmental assessment.
It cites a failure to consider neighborhood impact; Moody’s refusal to allow some testimony; the cost of the project; the legal requirement for a full environmental impact statement, and elements of such statements required by law that were not considered by the Arkansas Department of Transportation. These include the impact on traffic on connecting highways.
The so-called 30 Crossing Project would replace a bridge and expand I-30 to as wide as 10 lanes on seven miles through the heart of Little Rock and North Little Rock. It can only be built as originally designed if voters approve a sales tax increase for highway construction Nov. 3. The tax increase would cover a $350 million (and likely growing) overrun of the original cost estimate. The state says it will build the project in stages if the tax increase isn’t approved.