Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

Arlington Coalition on Transp. v. Volpe

Citation: 2 ELR 20162
No. No. 71-2109, 458 F.2d 1323/3 ERC 1995/(4th Cir., 04/04/1972) Rev'd & remanded

The requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act protecting parklands from highway construction except in unusual cases, must both be complied with for any ongoing highway project unless the project has reached such an advanced state of completion that the costs of abandoning or altering the proposed route would clearly outweigh the benefits to be gained. All doubts whether the statutes should apply must be resolved in favor of applying their requirements. Any parkland will be considered significant unless it is specifically declared not to be by the relevant local authorities.

The state is subject to the injunction issued in this suit. If the state highway commissioner were permitted to continue to condemn land and evict landowners under this state authority, his activities would make it increasingly easy for the federal authorities to find the route in question to be proper under NEPA and Section 4(f). That would make a sham of the independent federal reconsideration required by these statutes.

Although route hearings on I-66 had been held in 1958, design approval had been obtained, and approval of the plans, specifications and estimates was pending, the court will not invoke laches against the appellants, since Congress has given ecological preservation a high public priority.

As to certain portions of the highway, new public hearings must be held. Those new hearings must consider not only the economic and environmental factors, but also whether the proposed rapid transit line will lessen the need for this highway.

Further condemnations are enjoined until an adequate NEPA statement is filed, until Section 4(f) compliance is finished, and until public hearings are completed.

Counsel for Appellants
Lawrence J. Latto
Donald S. Burris
Shea & Gardner
734 Fifteenth Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20005

Counsel for Appellees
Robert S. Lynch
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530

Stuart H. Dunn
Assistant Attorney General
Supreme Court Building
Richmond, Virginia 23219

Counsel for The Wilderness Society, Amicus Curiae
Robert Funicello
1346 Connecticut Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Before Craven and Butzner, C.J. and Young, D.J.