By Y. Peter Kang for Law360
An Arizona federal judge Tuesday, July 28 denied a preliminary injunction bid launched by groups seeking to block a planned $1.75B freeway project near Phoenix due to its effects on wildlife and its impact on land sacred to the Pima tribe, saying that the plaintiffs didn’t prove imminent and irreparable harm.
U.S. District Judge Diane J. Humetewa said that the Sierra Club and eight other groups’ claims that construction of the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway will bring overall harm to the environmental, cultural and historic integrity of the area did not prove that plaintiffs are currently suffering harm that justifies granting an injunction.
Judge Humetewa said that none of the plaintiffs have property in the proposed construction area so the groups can’t claim harm from the freeway’s displacement of residents.
The judge noted in the order that she intends to proceed on an accelerated schedule.
Tuesday’s order is the latest in a case filed by the groups in May protesting construction of the freeway, which they say will destroy part of the South Mountains, bisect historic recreation trails and harm wildlife as well as damage traditional cultural property sacred to the Pima/Akimel O’odham people.
The Federal Highway Administration and the Arizona Department of Transportation approved the highway in March without adequately considering alternatives, even after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency voiced concerns over the environmental impact statements, the groups said.
An attorney for the plaintiffs told Law360 on Tuesday that they were disappointed by the ruling but said the case must still proceed on its merits.
A spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation told Law360 on Wednesday that they were satisfied with the result.
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