Client Successes Jul 19, 2017

Mid County Parkway Freeway Infrastructure Project Prevails for Second Time

BB&K Attorneys Represent RCTC; Defeat Environmental Challenges

For the second time, a judge has sided with Best Best & Krieger LLP environmental attorneys in a dispute over a freeway infrastructure project in Riverside County. A CEQA challenge to the project was dismissed by a Riverside County Superior Court judge one month after a federal judge did the same to a suit alleging NEPA violations.
BB&K Partners Charity Schiller and Michelle Ouellette and Of Counsel Andrew Skanchy represented the Riverside County Transportation Commission in the litigation regarding the Mid County Parkway project. The $1.7 billion project is a 16-mile freeway that links Interstate 215 in the City of Perris to State Route 79 in the City of San Jacinto. As of now, the Ramona Expressway is the only existing east-west transportation corridor in that location, but it does not meet Caltrans or Riverside County standards for major roadways. Access points, like driveways and cross streets, impede traffic flow, reduce capacity and pose safety risks. The project is being designed to alleviate those concerns, and provide for more efficient transportation in the future — as demand is expected to grow with increased population and employment in the region.
The challenge was filed in May 2015 against RCTC, which served as the CEQA lead agency for purposes of environmental review under state law. The plaintiffs tried to block the project, claiming it received inadequate environmental review. In a ruling handed down June 30, Judge Sharon Waters found that the plaintiffs failed to prove that the project’s environmental impact report was inadequate or flawed and that they also failed to exhaust their administrative remedies for at least one claim.
RCTC Chairman John F. Tavaglione told the Riverside Press-Enterprise in an article published July 10 that this was an important legal victory. “We have made a concerted effort to develop a project that meets future transportation needs while protecting the environment and this ruling proves that,” he said.
The case is Center for Biological Diversity v. Riverside County Transportation Authority, Riverside County Superior Court Case No. RIC 1505449.

If you have questions about this case, issue, decision, etc., please contact Charity Schiller or Andrew Skanchy.

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