The N.C. Turnpike Authority's plan to start construction this year on the $725 million Monroe Connector-Bypass near Charlotte was set back Thursday when the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of environmental groups that sued over misleading information in the project's environmental impact study, the Charlotte Observer reported.
Instead of making a required evaluation of the toll-road's costs and benefits by comparing these measures to what would happen if the road was not built, the NCDOT study incorrectly had compared building the road to ... building the road.
The 4th Circuit ruling said NCDOT should have acknowledged its error when regulatory agencies and environmental critics raised questions, according to Steve Harrison's story today in the Charlotte Observer:
The court wrote: “...rather than take these opportunities to make a ‘candid acknowledgement’ of what they knew to be the truth, the agencies maintained that the ‘no build’ data did not include (the road).”
Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond School of Law professor, said he was surprised at the nature of the court’s ruling.
“It’s interesting how strongly the court reprimanded the agencies,” Tobias said.
The Southern Environmental Law Center, which filed the suit to block the toll project, said the court ruling showed that NCDOT had "illegally failed to consider and disclose" the 20-mile project's "potential sprawl-inducing impacts."