News Sprawl Project Hits Snag
posted by November 30 at 20:12 PMon
A new, sprawl-promoting, habitat-endangering freeway in Pierce County - the so-called “cross-base highway” across Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base - has been opposed by environmentalists since it was first proposed more than 20 years ago. Nonetheless, its inclusion in the proposed Regional Transportation Investment District (RTID) made it more likely than ever that the state Department of Transportation (WSDOT) would finally get to move forward on Washington’s first new freeway in years. Yesterday, several environmental groups, organized as the Cross Base Coalition, put a snag in the state’s plans, announcing that they plan to sue WSDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, and Pierce County over the $289 million highway. The groups will argue that the highway violates state and federal environmental law.
In letter of intent to sue, the groups argue that the freeway will drive out equestrian businesses and slice the largest remaining oak woodland-prairie left in Washington in half and destroy or isolate 3,000 acres of grassland and woods, for which highway builders offered to buy just 358 acres in compensation, according to the Seattle Times. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, those prairies represent some of the rarest habitat in North America, home to “at least 29 species of federal threatened, endangered, candidate and sensitive plant and animal species.”