|Posted by WEAL on July 2, 2015 at 7:30 AM|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: THURSDAY, JULY 2, 2015, 9:00 a.m. CST
Contact: Allen Stasiewski (414) 507-8358, [email protected]
WEAL Files Suit To Halt Unnecessary Lane Expansion and New Road Construction of West Waukesha Bypass
WEAL and its partners in the Coalition Opposed to the West Waukesha Bypass advocate for a “No-build, Improve” option not considered by planners.
Today, the Waukesha County Environmental Action League (WEAL) and its partners, the Coalition Opposed to the West Waukesha Bypass (the Coalition), filed suit in Federal Court to stop the four-lane freightway and development corridor known as the West Waukesha Bypass. The complaint names the United States Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) as defendants.
According to the complaint, the purpose and need of the road expansion was to have been clearly defined and a thorough environmental review conducted under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) “before decisions are made and before actions are taken.”
Once the project purpose has been properly defined, agencies must first consider and then meaningfully address the direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental impacts and reasonable alternatives in its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
WEAL’s attorney, Eric Glitzenstein of Meyer, Glitzenstein and Eubanks, states, “There are multiple legal violations in the flawed process that WisDOT, U.S. DOT and FHWA pursued, including an ill-defined purpose and need and a ‘Final’ EIS that leaves major issues unaddressed, such as cumulative impacts, pedestrian safety, wetland mitigation and alternatives to the four-lane expansion.”
Only one route alternative — along existing County TT – was considered beyond the initial screening process. A two-lane alternative on the County TT route was rejected on the grounds that it couldn’t address the safety and potential traffic concerns that the Draft EIS claimed would be solved with a four-lane road, despite traffic projections that appear to be inflated and an accident report that counted accidents as far away as five miles from the route.
Allen Stasiewski, WEAL Vice President and Transportation Team Leader says “It's unfortunate that we have to file a lawsuit to get the DOT's attention. After hours of public testimony, hundreds of petition signatures, hundreds of pages of public comments, press conferences, rallies and signs opposing the Bypass, the DOT plowed right ahead. Not a single one of our concerns was adequately addressed. The Draft EIS even claimed that the project has the support of the local community. The public was steamrolled and our concerns were paved over.”
WEAL and its Coalition partners have long advocated for a “No-build, Improve” alternative that would cost a fraction of the $65 million estimated for a 4-lane highway, create no new environmental impacts, preserve the pristine Pebble Creek wetland and recharge area and improve safety and road conditions for all travelers.
Not that the lack of alternatives considered, inflated traffic projections and wetland destruction are the only problems with this project.
“It’s unfathomable that our serious concern for the safety of children crossing Meadowbrook Road to and from their elementary school has gone completely unresolved. Waukesha County initially proposed building an overhead footbridge, then an underpass, for 5-11 year-old students to cross what will become a 4-lane state highway. Both options were rejected and to date, there are NO proposals to resolve pedestrian safety, yet plans proceed to expand the road regardless,” says Shannon Majewski, parent, resident and Bypass opponent. “It’s acknowledged that the expansion will attract more traffic, including freight traffic shortcutting to the south side of Waukesha, and increase traffic speeds. We’re a residential neighborhood with thousands of families! What are we to conclude? That the safety of our children and our neighbors is of no concern to the City, County, WisDOT and the Federal Highway Administration? That freight trucks and cars take priority over our children’s safety and lives?”
Stasiewski concludes, “This supposed ‘Bypass’ was a bad idea when it was defeated in the past and it’s a bad idea now. It CAN be stopped because it HAS been stopped.”
The Waukesha County Environmental Action League is a 37-year old grassroots organization dedicated to protecting Waukesha County’s natural resources. The Coalition Opposed to the West Waukesha Bypass consists of neighbors and concerned citizens opposed to out-of-control highway spending while existing roads and bridges go unmaintained. More information, including the filed Complaint, can be found at www.WEAL.org and https://www.facebook.com/StopWaukeshaBypass .