Group files lawsuit to stop U.S. 95 realignment over environmentally sensitive area
A group of citizens has filed another lawsuit against the Idaho Transportation Department for its project that aims to realign and expand part of U.S. Highway 95.
The Paradise Ridge Defense Coalition alleges the transportation department produced a “deeply flawed” environmental impact statement that downplays or ignores the environmental repercussions of construction planned from Moscow to Thorn Creek Road, according to a 23-page lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Idaho. The lawsuit calls for the withdrawal of the statement and an order prohibiting the project from being implemented.
Steve Flint, a board member for the nonprofit, said the group’s concerns have not been quelled since members last took legal action against the state in 2003.
“One of the biggest concerns is that the eastern route that they proposed is closest to the prairie remnants,” he said.
In March, the Idaho Transportation Board unanimously approved the eastern route alternative for the 6.34-mile stretch of highway, and the formal record of decision was published in April in the Federal Register. The project will expand the highway from two to four lanes, including a 34-foot median and center turn lanes, as well as curbs, gutters and sidewalks at the northern end of the project, just south of Moscow.
The eastern alignment, one of three options considered, is nearest to Paradise Ridge. The area contains some of the last remnants of the Palouse Prairie, Flint said, including the endangered Spalding’s catchfly.
The lawsuit argues environmental damages caused by the eastern route, along with mitigation efforts, have not been adequately analyzed.