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D.C. Fed'n of Civic Ass'ns v. Volpe

Citation: 1 ELR 20552
No. No. 2821-69, 316 F. Supp. 754/1 ERC 1484/(D.D.C., 08/03/1970) On remand

Construction of the Three Sisters Bridge Interstate highway project enjoined, because in planning and commencing construction of that project, federal highway officials did not comply with the design public hearing requirements of 23 U.S.C. § 128 as implemented by Policy and Procedure Memorandum 20-8, with the certification procedures of 23 U.S.C. § 128, nor with the provision of federal highway law, 23 U.S.C. § 109, which requires a finding that a highway project is structurally feasible prior to its final approval. The Secretary of Transportation did comply with those provisions of federal highway law designed to protect parklands by determining that there was no feasible and prudent alternative to the constructuion of the bridge as planned and that all possible alternatives to minimize harm to the parklands had been studied. Moreover, the testimony of the highway officials demonstrated that, although several Congressmen had exerted pressure on the administrative decision-makers, their determinations nevertheless did not result solely from this pressure, and had a rational basis in fact. New corridor public hearings are not required for the project under PPM 20-8 because such hearings were held in 1964, the location of the project was approved by the federal government in 1966 and changes in the location of the project which have occurred since approval are not substantial. The statutory requirement that urban highway projects be based upon locally initiated comprehensive transportation planning was satisfied because the appropriate federal highway official found the bridge project had been approved by the Transportation Planning Board of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the appropriate local planning agency. Although no map of the federal lands to be affected by the bridge project was ever submitted to the agency administering those lands, as required by 23 U.S.C. § 317, the long history of the planning of this project together with the approval by the National Park Service of the use of the lands warrant the finding that the purpose of the statutory provision had been fulfilled.

Counsel for Plaintiff:
Roberts B. Owen
Gerald P. Norton
Covington & Burling
888 Sixteenth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
(202) 293-3300

Counsel for Federal Defendants:
Thomas L. McKevitt
Thomas L. Flannery
Joseph M. Hannon
Shiro Kashiwa
Edmund B. Clark
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C.
(202) 737-8200

Counsel for Defendants District of Columbia:
John R. Hess
Charles T. Duncan
Hubert B. Pair
Richard W. Barton Assistant Corporation Counsel
District Building
Washington, D.C. 20004
(202) 628-6000