On Friday February 19, 2016, the citizens’ lawsuit against the Purple Line now under way in federal court took another important legal step forward, as Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail (FCCT) et al. filed the opening Brief.
The Brief that we filed demonstrates how the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) failed to comply with federal environmental and transportation laws requiring a full and fair assessment of reasonable alternatives to the Purple Line and of the environmental impacts of each alternative; failed to show how they will comply with applicable laws such as those regarding stormwater runoff and hazardous materials; and failed to show how the impacts of each alternative project could be mitigated.
The Brief also demonstrates how these agencies failed to comply with the requirements of federal transportation law that in essence require them to show, among other things, that:
1) the proposed project does in fact offer the best cost-benefit ratio in terms of cost-per-rider and congestion relief;
2) the State and county governments can provide sufficient funding to build and operate the proposed project while repairing and maintaining our area’s Metro rail, bus and roadway system; and
3) the project will not use or harm any public parks.
Finally, the Brief demonstrates that MTA, FTA, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service failed to fully assess the direct and cumulative impact of the project on federally protected wildlife and the waters, wetlands and floodplain of the Rock Creek and Anacostia watersheds, and failed to take steps to avoid unnecessary harm to those waters and wildlife.
The comments and analyses made by communities, organizations and individuals all along the Purple Line right of way provided a strong building block in this process. The Brief also builds on recent affidavits and materials that experts on stormwater, noise, economics, and other issues have contributed for this lawsuit. Now, thanks to all those who are in so many ways supporting the lawsuit, these serious objections will be reviewed in a court of law.
It is now FTA/MTA’s turn to file a brief in response. FCCT et al and FTA/MTA will then each file one more brief. A hearing will be held, probably in June of this year, and the Judge will make a decision after that. The judge may dismiss our claims or require that the project be reconsidered and/or specify steps to bring the project into compliance.
To read the full Brief filed by Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail et al. See Below.