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Northern California environmental groups sue Caltrans over Interstate 80 widening project

(FOX40.COM) — Two Northern California-based environmental groups recently announced they have filed a lawsuit against Caltrans to stop the agency from widening part of Interstate 80 from six to eight lanes.

On Wednesday, the Sierra Club, considered the nation’s oldest and largest environmental organization, and the Sacramento Environmental Council said their lawsuit accuses Caltrans of conducting an “inadequate environmental analysis” of the widening project of I-80 which would expand the network. highway between Davis and Sacramento through the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.

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Environmental groups say they hope the lawsuit will force Caltrans to create a valid analysis of the project’s negative environmental impacts and implement “appropriate mitigation” of harmful effects that it believes a valid analysis would find.

“Caltrans’ environmental impact report significantly underestimates the increase in vehicle travel, which would emit much greater amounts of greenhouse gases and air pollutants than reported,” ECOS said in its website.

He continued: “Caltrans violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by failing to recognize that highway widenings do not produce less congestion but, in fact, lead to increased traffic, (which leads to) more severe congestion and pollution due to “induced demand”. .”

Environmental groups say “induced demand” claims that as more highway lanes are added, traffic will increase disproportionately, meaning that in 5 to 10 years, congestion will be worse than it is. was before the highway widening.

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Sierra Club Yolano Group President Alan Pryor said, “The environmental impact report for the I-80 widening shows that Caltrans is stuck in reverse when we need to move our region forward by investing in real alternatives to congestion that do not just put more energy. cars on our roads and smog in our air.

ECOS Climate Committee Chair Ralph Propper added: “The Sacramento metro area is consistently among the top ten worst in the nation for unhealthy ozone and particulate matter levels…Increased pollution (due to I-80 widening project) will have a particular impact on the West. Residents of Sacramento, where nearly a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line.

According to the Sierra Club and ECOS, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) also filed a lawsuit challenging Caltrans’ I-80 expansion project.

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