August 17, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 2015
ELPC Disappointed Federal & State Agencies Appealing Illiana Tollway Court Decision
FHWA, IDOT & INDOT sadly continue Illiana Tollway “Fiscal Irresponsibility”
CHICAGO – The Environmental Law & Policy Center is disappointed the Federal Highway Administration, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Indiana Department of Transportation have decided to appeal a recent federal court decision that ruled the agencies’ Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) and Record of Determination (ROD) are invalid because the underlying analyses were faulty.
In its June 16, 2015 Opinion, the Federal District Court held that the FHWA, IDOT and INDOT’s approvals of the final Tier One EIS and ROD were “arbitrary and capricious and in violation of NEPA” (National Environmental Policy Act).
The appeal was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division on August 14, 2015.
“The Environmental Law & Policy Center is disappointed the Federal Highway Administration, Illinois DOT and Indiana DOT are continuing their fiscal irresponsibility with the boondoggle proposed Illiana Tollway,” said Howard Learner, the lead attorney. “The federal court appropriately said the Environmental Impact Statement was flawed because of circular reasoning. The federal and state transportation agencies have a right to appeal, but that doesn’t mean that it’s in the public’s interest to do so.”
Federal District Court Judge Jorge Alonso determined that IDOT’s plan to build the Illiana Tollway was based on analyses that are “fatally flawed.” The Court concluded that the agencies violated the National Environmental Policy Act and used a circular logic to make their initial case about how the proposed Illiana Tollway will lead to population growth and traffic demand. They assumed traffic growth would be the same regardless of whether the costly proposed new Illiana Tollway was ever built or not. The Court remanded the Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision to be redone in accordance with the decision and applicable law.
“The proposed new Illiana Tollway is a fiscal boondoggle, is contrary to sound regional transportation policy, and would degrade the very special Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie,” Learner said.