Lawsuit to halt I-11 says environmental review ‘sidestepped’

By InMaricopa

The fight against the planned route of Interstate 11 is headed to court.

Four Tucson-area conservation groups filed suit Thursday against the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), challenging its approval of the proposed 280-mile-long highway that would link Nogales and Wickenburg. As planned, I-11 will be routed around the west side of Tucson, head north through Casa Grande then cut through Hidden Valley to west of the Palo Verde Mountains.

In their lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson, the conservation groups claim the highway, as routed, will destroy “pristine Sonoran Desert,” exacerbate air pollution and endanger wildlife, including the “threatened” Sonoran Desert tortoise. (In February, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruled the tortoise is not in need of protection under the federal Endangered Species Act, citing a stable population.)

Co-locating I-11 with Interstates 10 and 19 would have reduced those effects, the lawsuit contends.

The lawsuit contends the FHWA failed to consider other transportation alternatives, including a rail line, and “sidestepped the required environmental review” before approving the project.

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