Friends of Moses Hall, the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a federal lawsuit Oct. 11 against the Maryland Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration.
The lawsuit seeks to stop additional action on the Beltway expansion project—including any financial commitments to any private partners for the toll-lane construction—while the errors in the environmental review are corrected.
The toll-lane project threatens two historic sites of national significance to Cabin John: the Morningstar Moses Cemetery and Plummers Island, which has been studied by the Washington Biologists’ Field Club for over a century.
The lawsuit lays out deficiencies in the state’s environmental review, including:
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) ignored a requirement that they consider how additional traffic on the Beltway and 270 would increase soot (PM2.5) levels near the highway
MDOT is not disclosing details about its claim that the toll lanes will reduce traffic, while the U.S. Department of Transportation said it could not confirm the “plausibility” or “validity” of MDOT’s traffic findings
MDOT and FHWA acknowledge that people buried in the 130-year-old Morningstar Moses Cemetery could be in the path of the expanded highway, but failed to perform a simple assessment to determine if the project would, in fact, disturb any graves
New piers for a widened American Legion Bridge would occupy Plummers Island, a site considered to be the most scientifically studied island in North America, which could worsen flooding and erosion on the island. Construction on the undeveloped island and the widened bridge’s shadow would damage research plots and rare plants.
By Charlotte Troup-Leighton
VP of Advocacy, CJCA