The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a district court decision rejecting a challenge under the National Environmental Policy Act (NE PA) to the construction of a highway bridge in Martin County, Florida. Citizens for Smart Growth v. Capka, No. 07-14122 (11th Cir. 2/6/12).
Plaintiffs sought to block construction of the Indian Street Bridge, intended to relieve traffic congestion and aid evacuation across the St. Lucie River near Palm City. Plaintiffs alleged that the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration violated NE PA and the Department of Transportation Act during the project’s development by conducting an inadequate review of alternatives, failing to take a “hard look” at direct effects and insufficiently considering cumulative and indirect impacts. Among the direct and indirect environmental impacts plaintiffs alleged were those affecting drainage, wetlands, wildlife, water quality, and habitat. The district court granted the government’s motion for summary judgment, and plaintiffs appealed.
The appeals court ruled that state and federal agencies conducted adequate assessments of the project’s environmental impacts. The court noted that draft and final environmental impact statements (EIS ) were developed for the project following NE PA procedures and that the draft EIS was subject to public notice and comment, as required by the Administrative Procedure Act.