Block of Pellissippi extension advances

10-4-2002

by Joel Davis of The Daily Times Staff

A lawsuit seeking to block the controversial extension of Pellissippi Parkway has cleared its latest hurdle. U.S. District Court Judge Todd Campbell issued an order Tuesday 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. Campbell's order clears the way for the lawsuit to proceed to trial if nothing unexpected occurs, CAPPE President Susan Keller said. ``We're very, very pleased indeed,'' she said. ``As far as I know, we're just waiting for a court date for the second part of our hearing.''

Campbell has referred the lawsuit to Magistrate Judge E. Clifton Knowles for case management. CAPPE has prevailed in motions related to the lawsuit so far, Board Member Nina Gregg said. ``We have continued to prevail in court and every motion that the state and Federal Highway Administration has submitted has been declined,'' she said.

The group did not oppose the payment of relocation fees to three families who owned mobile homes in the path of the extension and had entered into contracts before the date of the injunction.

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 approximately 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.