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Coalition for Responsible Regional Dev. v. Coleman

ELR Citation: 6 ELR 20250
Nos. No. 74-86-HN, 430 F. Supp. 13/(S.D. W. Va., 01/06/1976) On remand

On remand from the Fourth Circuit, 5 ELR 20432, the district court dismisses a suit seeking to enjoin construction of a proposed toll bridge across the Ohio River in Huntington, West Virginia. Although no federal funds are involved in the project, the bridge requires a Coast Guard permit because it will cross navigable waters. The environmental impact statement (EIS) which the Coast Guard prepared in conjunction with this permit does not violate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. §§4331 et seq., ELR 41009, §4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act, 49 U.S.C. §1653(f), ELR 41605, or the National Historic Preservation Act, 16 U.S.C. §§470 et seq. Despite plaintiffs' arguments to the contrary, the final EIS/§4(f) statement adequately considers alternatives to the bridge project, and makes a legally supportable finding as to the project's effect on historic sites. There is no "prudent and feasible alternative" to the presently planned location of the bridge, which will involve an elevated structure over public parkland. Plaintiffs' proposed alternative site, 2.2 miles to the east, would also involve a taking of public recreational land. In addition, constructing the bridge on that site would create land use and auto pollution impacts in a presently unspoiled area, and would not alleviate the traffic congestion in downtown Huntington that provided the chief impetus for building the bridge in the first place. The Coast Guard adequately complied with §106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, 16 U.S.C. §470(f), in determining that the bridge will have no effect on an historic building, the Madie Carroll House, located 50 feet from the project. Because the bridge will be a toll facility, 29 U.S.C. §129 prohibits the use of federal funds administered by the Appalachian Regional Commission for construction of an approach.

The full text of this opinion is available from ELR (12 pp. $1.50, ELR Order No. C-1026).

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Ray E. Ratliff, Jr.
Paul J. Kaufmann
Appalachian Research and Defense Fund, Inc.
701 Nelson Bldg.
Charleston WV 25301
(304) 344-9687

Counsel for Defendants
Kathryn A. Oberly
George R. Hyde
Department of Justice
Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-2756, 739-2731

John A. Field, III, U.S. Attorney
Ray L. Hampton, III, Asst. U.S. Attorney
4006 Federal Bldg.
500 Quarrier St.
Charleston WV 25301
(304) 344-3657

Anthony G. Halkias
W. Va. Dept. of Highways
1900 Washington St. E.
Charleston WV 25301
(304) 348-2821

Knapp, J.