Federal Court Rules in Favor of Northern Beltline

On Tuesday, January 19, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama dismissed the claim that responsible agencies improperly segmented the Northern Beltline.

The Court also determined that the agencies took a sufficiently hard look at the environmental consequences of the changes to the project.

Judge Keith Watkins dismissed both suits filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of Black Warrior Riverkeeper.

For several years, the Coalition for Regional Transportation (CRT) has highlighted the fact that the 2012 Final Environmental Impact Statement Reevaluation (FEISR) incorporates all of the information in the Alabama Department of Transportation’s (ALDOT) 1997 306-page FEIS, and adds new, relevant information.  The FEISR is a 1,480-page document that examined and addressed a multitude of environmental impacts. Not only has the document cleared the required regulatory and legal process of ALDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHwA), but it has also been reviewed and approved by several additional federal, state and local agencies according to their areas of expertise.

The lead agency, FHwA, may identify other federal and non-federal agencies that have a possible interest in the project, and can invite those agencies to participate in the environmental review process for the project. The reviewing agencies include the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, Jefferson County Department of Health, Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, Federal Transit Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority.

The recent court ruling highlights, once again, that ALDOT and other responsible agencies conducted a thorough analysis of the potential environmental impacts of the Northern Beltline. CRT believes that this ruling affirms the value of the Northern Beltline and ensures that the Road to Jobs will continue moving forward.