For informational/historical purposes only.

NEWS RELEASE

Ohio Department of Transportation Internet News Release
June 15, 2001

ODOT VICTORIOUS IN U.S. ROUTE 33 LAWSUIT

Columbus- The Ohio Department of Transportation today received an unconditional victory when a federal court issued a decision in the lawsuit brought by the Citizens Against Superfluous Highways (CASH) challenging the U.S. Route 33 relocation between Athens in Athens County and Darwin in Meigs County.

In the decision, U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus held ODOT took the necessary "hard look" at the environmental issues and accordingly denied plaintiff's request for injunctive relief for lack of merit. The court's ruling means the U.S. 33 project can move forward on schedule and without restriction.

"We always contended no violations occurred and were confident the court would agree the issues raised by CASH should not stop the U.S. 33 project," said ODOT Director Gordon Proctor. "The courts decision is not only a victory for ODOT, but for all of southeast Ohio."

The court said, in summary:
"In light of the foregoing, this Court finds that summary judgment in favor of the Plaintiff is not warranted. Conversely, the Defendants' motion for summary judgment is meritorious. The Court concludes, under Fed. R. Civ. P.56, that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to whether Defendants' decision to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact [FONSI] was arbitrary or capricious. Furthermore, the Court concludes, based upon the record presented, that the Defendants took a 'hard look' at the effects of the project as required by NEPA. Therefore, the Court upholds the sufficiency of the Environmental Assessment [EA] as a basis for the FONSI. Finally, the Court concludes, based on the record presented, that the decision to not prepare an Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] was not arbitrary or capricious. In light of the Court's conclusions, the Court finds the Plaintiff's motion for injunctive relief without merit."

Next week legal representatives for ODOT and the Federal Highway Administration will meet to review the judges ruling in detail. CASH can appeal the decision to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has a multi-state jurisdiction that includes Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

The $90 million project is a relocation of U.S. 33 on a new alignment between Athens and the existing four-lane route in the village of Darwin. The project is expected to begin in mid-summer and be completed in 2003.