Lawyer Makes a Federal Case of Bike Path

     LOS ANGELES (CN) - An attorney sued the federal and state departments of transportation to try to stop a bike path from passing behind his house. Suing for himself and some neighbors in Federal Court, S. Zachary Samuels claims the 3.8-mile, $2.5 million expansion of the Exposition Boulevard bike path would violate environmental laws.
     The Federal Highway Administration promised $2.5 million to expand the bike path "pursuant to an alleged categorical exclusion" from federal environmental laws, Samuels complains.
     He claims the bike route was not properly assessed for its environmental impacts, including removal of green space that provides a buffer from a nearby interstate.
     Samuels asked the court to stop the funding and the exclusion, claiming that the bike path, which would include pavement, lighting, landscaping and intersection improvements, should be subjected to the same environmental scrutiny as an adjacent light rail project.
     "As the bikeway indeed is a part of a larger adjacent project, the environmental impacts identified for the light rail project will without doubt, and maybe to a greater extent, affect the bikeway," Samuels claims.
     Along with removal of "green space which serves as a buffer between the I-10 freeway and the plaintiffs' homes," the path's potential environmental harm includes "the impacts of constructing in a floodplain," groundwater contamination, and ground disturbance that could affect water recharge, according to the complaint.
     Samuels also claims that the plan will likely call for seizure of private property, which he says "needs to be acknowledged, studied and suitable mitigation devised."
     In the meantime, he wants the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the California Department of Transportation and the City of Los Angeles and its Metropolitan Transit Authority enjoined from "undertaking any construction activities on the site using federal or any other funds from any source."
     Samuels is representing himself and seven of his neighbors.