Sacramento faces lawsuit over transportation plan

The city of Sacramento, in north eastern California, is being sued by three environmental organisations over the road building and widening proposals contained in its new transportation plan.

The Environmental Council of Sacramento, the Sierra Club and No Way LA Coalition have submitted a “notice of intent” to sue a number of agencies involved in or responsible for regulating Sacramento’s long-term transportation plan.

The groups argue that at least 58 projects listed in the Sacramento $15 billion transport plan will result in increased air pollution and congestion. These include new roads building and widening of motorways.

The environmental groups are calling on federal, state and city agencies to enforce the US Clean Air Act, that includes the power to restrict increases in vehicle emission posed by transportation projects. The suit will claim that the state cannot deliver the mobile source emission reductions for the Sacramento region that are required by federal law and that the new transport plan will make those reductions even more difficult to meet because it will increase the number car journeys and miles travelled.

“We’re going to court to protect the livability of the region,” said Earl Withycombe of the Environmental Council of Sacramento. “The new plan is still 70% roads. Decision-makers expected technological fixes to work miracles so they wouldn’t have to address the real problem – too many cars, driving too many miles.”

The environmental groups want to see an emphasis on funding for public transport, pedestrian and cycle projects.

The Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund is representing the three groups in their suit filed against The US Department of Transportation, the Federal Highways Administration, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and the California Department of Transportation.

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