After failing to obtain a temporary restraining order, plaintiffs sought to require UMTA to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The agency had completed an environmental impact statement (EIS) in 1973.
First, the court rejected defendants' laches defense. Although a great deal of time and money had been spent, it represented only a small percentage of the total to be spent, and no construction had begun. Thus, although the project had been publicized for many years, there would be no undue prejudice to defendants in allowing the suit to proceed. 414 F. Supp. at 111.
Second, the court examined the EIS and found it to be adequate, with a sufficiently detailed analysis of the impacts of the system on the historic properties. Id. at 119. That Sycamore Street was determined to be eligible for the Register after the EIS was completed triggered NHPA but was not so substantial a change as to require a supplemental EIS under NEPA. Id. at 118.
Plaintiffs also alleged that defendants failed to comply with Section 106 of NHPA and Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act. Because these processes were underway within the agency and not completed, the court initially held that these claims were not ripe for review. Id. at 121. After the Section 106 and Section 4(f) processes had been completed, the court reconsidered plaintiffs' claims.
Because plaintiffs' supplemental briefs did not raise any specific contentions concerning defendants' Section 106 compliance, the court concluded that defendants had complied with Section 106. Id. at 121 n. 1. Furthermore, the court held that defendants' Section 4(f) statement was not arbitrary or capricious. Id. at 128 29.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed without further comment on the NHPA and Section 4(f) claims.
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