Parkway foes pressing feds to disclose information

10-11-2002

by Joel Davis of The Daily Times Staff

The attorney for the Citizens Against the Pellissippi Parkway Extension group is putting pressure on the federal government to disclose information about the controversial project.

Lawyers for the Federal Highway Administration have yet to file the administrative record on the Pellissippi Parkway extension project with the U.S. District Court in Nashville.

A Sept. 9 deadline passed without the record being filed. ``They are under the gun right how to file an administrative record,'' CAPPE Attorney Joe McCaleb said.

The administrative record is essential information for the CAPPE case, McCaleb said. ``For lack of a better description, it is a record of decision-making by the federal government --a paper-trail,'' he said. ``It should also include any agreements that have been made by the federal government and state of Tennessee regarding this highway.''

McCaleb filed a motion Tuesday to compel the federal government to produce the record. Government attorneys have 10 days to file a response to McCaleb's motion unless the court allows an extension of time.

A FHWA spokesperson declined to comment. U.S. District Court Judge Todd Campbell issued an order Oct. 1 denying a motion for voluntary remand from the Federal Highway Administration.

Attorneys for the FHWA filed a motion on Sept. 5 asking Campbell to allow the agency to withdraw a controversial environmental assessment of the project for review.

The environmental assessment is at the heart of the lawsuit, which the Citizens Against the Pellissippi Parkway Extension group filed June 7.

CAPPE contends the environmental assessment is inadequate and fails to take into consideration such factors as air- and water-quality impacts, traffic congestion and the potential for urban sprawl.

The CAPPE lawsuit named Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner J. Bruce Saltsman Sr. as a defendant as well as U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and officials of the Federal Highway Administration.

In response to the lawsuit, Campbell issued a preliminary injunction halting work on the extension July 17.

Previously, the FHWA cut off federal aid for the project in response to the lawsuit.

The suspension of federal funding for the project remains in place. The final leg of the extension project would take about 39 tracts of land, directly affecting 42 residents and one business.

TDOT has chosen a 4.5-mile route for the proposed extension. The route follows a mostly southerly direction from where the parkway currently ends at Cusick Road to East Lamar Alexander Parkway close to Morning Star Baptist Church, 3412 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway.

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All materials Copyright 2002 Horvitz Newspapers.