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Environmental Groups Fail To Stop I-69 Project

Last updated on Friday, July 27, 2012

(UNDATED) - A federal judge has ruled against opponents of the $3 billion Interstate 69 extension between Indianapolis and Evansville who claimed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated federal law by giving Indiana permission to fill wetlands and reroute streams along part of the 142-mile road.

U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney wrote in an order issued Tuesday that the Corps' decision to issue a permit was not arbitrary or capricious. He granted summary judgment to the Corps and the Indiana Department of Transportation.

The Hoosier Environmental Council and Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads argued in their lawsuit the highway would cause "irreparable" environmental harm along a 26-mile section that would cross southern Indiana's Daviess and Greene counties.

"This isn't the end of it. It's a disappointment, but (the highway is) such a bad idea, we have to continue to fight," said Thomas Tokarski, president of CARR and longtime opponent of a I-69 through new terrain.

"We have to (continue fighting) because we need to save the environment, people's homes and livelihoods, and we need to be fiscally responsible for transportation projects around the state," Tokarski said.

He said CARR and the Hoosier Environmental Council have other lawsuits pending, including one regarding the highway's route over the White River in Daviess and Pike counties, and others in which property owners are contesting eminent domain claims against their land.

A 70-mile section of the I-69 extension is expected to open late this year.

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