AGUA files suit to stop 281/1604 interchange

In what really isn’t a surprise (at least to me), the enviro-wackos at Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas (AGUA) have filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the planned US 281/Loop 1604 interchange project, which would build the first four direct connectors at that intersection.¬† According to an early Express-News report, AGUA claims that the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority (ARMA) didn’t kowtow to their demands, so they had no choice but to file a lawsuit.

Whatever. 

If you couldn’t tell, I think this is one of the more ridiculous chapters in the long-running saga of the US 281 story,¬†a tale rife with¬†zaniness.¬† This interchange project was¬†environmentally-approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) using a Categorical Exclusion, which means that in the experience of highway agencies across the country, these types of improvements have not had any significant environmental impacts.¬† It got that approval for¬†good reason.¬† Yes, the project location is in the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, but it is wholly within the existing rights-of-way of 281 and 1604 (with the exception of a few small parcels of already-developed land at the corners of the intersection itself.)¬† Therefore, this project would not cause any additional environmental harm given what’s already there, and actually would help reduce air pollution and runoff pollution caused by oil and other contaminated drippings from vehicles idling at the existing intersection.¬† But AGUA doesn’t see that part apparently.

Instead, they compared it to the “loophole” that BP used to drill the now-infamous¬†Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Seriously?¬† They’re obviously drinking some funny Kool-Aid over at the AGUA treehouse.

I had hopes that the anti-toll folks that had partnered with AGUA previously to stop the planned US 281 toll road would pressure them to ease-off of a lawsuit against the interchange.  If (or probably when) AGUA loses this lawsuit, their credibility will be shot, not to mention the enormous public backlash that they are about to incur for this stunt, thus almost certainly crippling any of their future opposition efforts.

Toll opponents have been generally mum on the interchange project.¬† Initially they made some mild noise about the project’s extent and costs, but as of late, they really haven’t been heard from, probably because it was to be built toll-free and¬†because they read the same tea leaves I did about the public¬†wrath that they would suffer¬†if they¬†opposed this¬†nearly universally popular project.¬† It’s the old pick-your-battles lesson.

Hopefully this lawsuit will be resolved quickly.¬† If not, the project could lose its stimulus funding, and then we’re back to square one.

I’m sure I’ll have more on this in the coming days.

San Antonio Express-News (MySanAntonio.com) story

 

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