The U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement June 27 with opponents of a Las Vegas highway improvement project. Once the agreement is approved by a federal court, $85 million worth of transportation construction work on U.S. 95 will be allowed to move forward – most likely this November.
Construction was originally halted in Aug. 2004 when a federal court issued an injunction pending the outcome of litigation initiated by the Sierra Club.
The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) got involved in the case in Oct. 2004, filling a legal brief documenting the positive environmental, public health and safety effects of improving U.S. 95, including a significant reduction in “greenhouse gases,” lower motor fuel consumption and more rapid response times for fire fighters, ambulances and other public safety officers.
While the U.S. 95 case was being litigated, ARTBA continued to apply public pressure highlighting the disruptive impacts of stopping a highway improvement project under construction. ARTBA testified about the case at a June 18 House Committee on Resources Task Field hearing in Lakeside, Ariz., which was called to discuss reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). ARTBA explained how the lapse of time between issuance of a final environmental impact statement for the U.S. 95 project in 1999 and a court injunction stopping construction in 2004 demonstrated a serious flaw in the NEPA process. One of ARTBA’s proposed reforms was a 90-day time limit on NEPA related lawsuits concerning the reviews of transportation projects.
Resolution of the U.S. 95 case continues ARTBA’s long series of successful legal advocacy efforts on behalf of the transportation construction industry. Since 1993, ARTBA’s involvement in federal regulatory issues and litigation has allowed nearly $50 billion in approved – yet challenged – state, regional and local transportation projects and plans to move forward.