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Patterson v. Exon

Citation: 6 ELR 20743
No. No. 73-0-434, 415 F. Supp. 1276/10 ERC 1150/(D. Neb., 06/14/1976)

Federally-funded reconstruction of a 4.1 mile portion of an 11-mile unpaved road which passes through a wooded public recreation area and near a fish hatchery is enjoined pending preparation of an adequate environmental impact statement. The Federal Highway Administration decision not to prepare an EIS because the project entails no significant environmental impacts was unreasonable in light of plans to modify the channel of a stream, construct a large bridge, and undertake considerable grading tree removal. The court concludes that the project would seriously impair the natural beauty of the area. The FHWA's negative declaration does not by itself satisfy NEPA's impact statement requirement. The 4.1 mile segment was not the proper length of highway in this case for NEPA analysis because it does not connect logical termini, has no independent utility, and does not provide a proper opportunity to consider alternatives. The court finds that the state's objective is to improve the entire unpaved road, and an EIS covering the entire 11 miles must therefore be prepared before construction may begin on the 4.1 mile segment since placement of that segment will narrow the range of choices for placement of the remaining highway sections.

Counsel for Plaintiff
James T. Gleason
Collins & Gleason
2409 M St.
Omaha NB 68107
(402) 592-1277

Counsel for Defendants
Stephen L. Muehlberg, Asst. U.S. Attorney
Federal Building
215 N. 17th St.
Omaha NB 68102
(402) 221-4774

Clarence A. H. Meyer, Attorney General
State Capitol
Lincoln NB 68509
(402) 471-2682