Environmental challenges filed against the Mid County Parkway, a proposed 16-mile freeway project that would link Perris and San Jacinto, have been denied by a federal judge. United States District Judge George Wu rejected the legal challenge filed by environmental groups under the National Environmental Policy Act.
The lawsuit was filed by environmental groups in 2015, contending that the description of the project route was deficient and that the county failed to consider a wider range of project alternatives.
The Sierra Club, one of the plaintiffs, claims more than 400 residents will have to move and many more homeowners will be forced to live next to a noisy, six-lane freeway that will produce air toxins. Opponents of the project say the roadway will threaten wildlife areas and worsen air pollution.
Conservation groups are evaluating their options for appealing the federal district court’s decision. The $1.7 billion project still faces legal challenges in state court under the California Environmental Quality Act.
Proponents of the highway project believe it’s necessary to remedy the growing road congestion. San Jacinto Councilman Andrew Kotyuk, the city’s representative on the Riverside County Transportation Commission, said the suit was unfounded. He says that Riverside County has one of the toughest environmental requirements nationally.
“This is an important legal victory for advancing the transportation project that Riverside County residents need and are asking for,” Chairman of Riverside County Board of Supervisors, John Tavaglione, was quoted as saying in Press Enterprise.
The judge found that the environmental impact study was complete and had considered sufficient alternatives. He also argued that the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies before filing a suit. The 47-page ruling details the many project versions that were developed, studied, reviewed, discussed publicly and re-vamped over and over again since the early 2000s — when the project was intended to go to the 15 in Corona.
The road project will be an alternative to Ramona Expressway, which currently links Perris and San Jacinto, but does not meet Caltrans or Riverside County standards for major roadways. The project is being designed to alleviate current and future congestion, transportation inefficiencies, and safety risks caused by access points like driveways and cross streets. Demand for more efficient transportation is expected with a growing population and employment in the region.
If you are a California property or business owner impacted by this project or are faced with eminent domain in any other project in California, please call the attorneys at California Eminent Domain Law Group at (866) EM-DOMAIN for a free consultation to discuss your rights.