Groups opposing the multi-billion dollar construction of I-69 filed a lawsuit Wednesday hoping to bring the project to a halt. The Hoosier Environmental Council together with Citizens for Appropriate Rural Roads allege the permit the Army Corps of Engineers granted to the state allowing the dumping of fill material into wetlands and streams violates the Federal Clean Water Act.
Environmental Council Senior policy director Tim Maloney, says the immediate goal of the lawsuit is to halt construction on the affected area. The HEC also wants the army to conduct its own research to find an alternative route with less environmental impact.
“So we’re saying to the Corp of Engineers, as we’ve said to the Federal Highway Administration for years, is that they need to exercise proper federal oversight, and by doing so we’d not only save thousands of acres of Indiana farmland, we’d also save billions of dollars,” Maloney said.
The Hoosier Environmental Council says an alternative route through Terre Haute using pre-existing highways would minimize environmental impact and save the state more than one billion dollars.
However, according to Indiana Department of Transportation Spokesperson Will Wingfield, the current plan tries to minimize the environmental impact of I-69 while meeting the state’s economic and safety goals.
“INDOT anticipates investing nearly 77 million dollars in environmental mitigation to purchase nearly 10 square miles of property in southern Indiana for the purpose of reforestation, development of wetlands and stream mitigation,” Wingfield said.
Wingfield says all of this work benefits the environment more than the highway hurts it.