The Federal Highway Administration will appeal U.S. District Court Judge Todd Campbell's refusal to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to block the proposed Pellissippi Parkway extension.
Attorneys for the agency are filing an appeal with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over federal courts in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
News of the appeal came the same day that the FHWA turned over records dealing with the controversial environmental assessment of the parkway extension project. ``We're filing the administrative record (Wednesday) with the court, and we're also filing a notice of appeal with the Sixth Circuit (Court) in regards to the earlier motions we filed,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Roden said. It will be at least eight months to a year before the Sixth Circuit hears the appeal.
Citizens Against The Pellissippi Parkway Extension Board Member Nina Gregg greeted news of the appeal cautiously. ``We're glad we're finally going to see the administrative record,'' she said. ``Beyond that, until we see it and whatever else Mr. Roden has filed, we're not prepared to comment.''
CAPPE attorney Joe McCaleb will be allowed 60 days from the receipt of the administrative record to decide on the next step to take in the lawsuit. McCaleb could not be reached Wednesday.
The administrative record includes any agreements that have been made by the federal government and state of Tennessee regarding the highway.
The environmental assessment is at the heart of the lawsuit, which the CAPPE 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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