A lawsuit has been filed over a multi-million dollar project that looks to bring improvements to Erie’s Bayfront Parkway.
Here is a look at why several organizations are opposed to this project.
Environmental concerns are at the center of this lawsuit. The plaintiffs are claiming that there was an illegal short cut for the environmental review process.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Erie Unit and Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future has filed a lawsuit challenging the Federal Highway Administration’s approval of the categorical exclusion for the Erie Bayfront Parkway Project.
Both of the organizations are being represented by Earthjustice.
“They want a time out. They want a back up. They’d like PennDOT to look at multiple options for what the Bayfront could look like. Options that prioritize pedestrians and cyclists the other ways of getting around in Downtown Erie,” said Jill Witkowski Heaps, Staff attorney for Earthjustice.
According to the lawsuit, the project was scheduled for an environmental assessment. However, in March, PennDOT sought a categorical exclusion which the federal highway administration approved.
“They have failed to analyze the potential significant environmental impacts this project is going to have including the potential long term impacts to the bays water quality,” said Angela Kilbert, Staff Attorney for PennFuture.
Those who support the project said that they support all environmental concerns, but in the end the improvements will benefit the community.
“This has not just been happening in the last few months, it’s taken years to get to where we are and the funding is finally been secured and we really need to be moving forward not backward,” said James Grunke, CEO of Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership.
“We are confident that we will work to finalize a plan that will bring together the much needed functional improvements to the Bayfront Highway while protecting the environment as well,” said Mayor Joe Schember, (D), City of Erie.
PennDOT officials said because this is ongoing litigation, the department can’t comment at this time.
We also reached out to the president of the local NAACP. However, he did not get back to us in time.