CLF Argues I-93 Widening Flawed In Court Hearing

Brian Barth

Contact:
Tom Irwin, CLF Staff Attorney (603) 225-3060
Melissa Hoffer, NH Advocacy Center Director (603) 225-3060

Concord, NH (March 16, 2007) The N.H. Department of Transportation (NHDOT) and Federal Highway Administration violated federal law while rushing to push through their proposed I-93 widening, argued the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) in a federal court hearing today. CLF filed suit in February 2006 charging that the transportation agencies violated the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act in their planning and approval of the proposed twenty mile, $700 million widening project.

CLF’s legal complaint argues that NHDOT unlawfully refused to consider commuter rail as part of the solution for reducing congestion, failed properly to assess the air and water pollution impacts caused by the proposed project’s inducement of future traffic growth, and ignored its own studies showing the project will fail within a few short years of its construction.

“If we’re going to invest hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to expand I-93, we need to make sure the plan is actually going to meet the needs of the traveling public and not simply result in gridlock conditions,,” said Melissa Hoffer , CLF’s New Hampshire Advocacy Center Director. “A more balanced approach – one that includes commuter rail – is essential to any real solution for I-93.”

NHDOT’s own studies show the expansion project will induce population growth which, in turn, will cause the highway to reach severe “congestion failure” conditions by 2020. NHDOT’s data show this growth leading to an additional 1.4 million miles of vehicle travel per day, with much of this travel occurring on secondary roads.

“NHDOT looked at the issue of I-93 with blinders on,” said CLF Staff Attorney Tom Irwin. “It should have looked not only at the highway, but at the many roads that are linked to it. And it should have put local communities on notice of the significant traffic impacts the project will have on local roads.”

The National Environmental Policy Act requires an analysis of project alternatives and detailed consideration of project impacts. CLF’s complaint, which commenced the action, can be viewed here . (PDF)

The Conservation Law Foundation works to solve the environmental problems that threaten the people, natural resources and communities of New England . CLF’ s advocates use law, economics and science to design and implement strategies that conserve natural resources, protect public health, and promote vital communities in our region. Founded in 1966, CLF is a nonprofit, member-supported organization. It has offices in Boston , Massachusetts ; Concord , New Hampshire ; Providence , Rhode Island ; Montpelier , Vermont ; and Brunswick , Maine .

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