Judge Halts Plans to Widen Highway That Runs by Redwoods

(CN) – Plans to widen a California highway surrounded by gigantic redwoods has been put on hold after a federal judge ruled Friday that officials failed to properly research the environmental effects it may have.

Environmental groups and individuals brought the third lawsuit since 2010 over a plan to widen a 1.1-mile section of Highway 101, claiming that doing so would harm millennia-old redwood trees through Richardson Grove State Park in Humboldt County.

Highway 101 through Richardson Grove State Park. (William Dotinga/CNS)

In a 26-page decision, U.S. District Judge William Alsup said the California Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, failed to properly assess the possible environmental harm the project might cause.

Alsup looked at the issues of paving over tree roots, construction guidelines in the State Parks Handbook, noise impacts and possible damage that could be done to the redwoods if they were struck by heavier trucks allowed to travel on a widened road.

Regarding all issues, Alsup found that Caltrans either failed to account for those issues in their reports or left out critical information.

Alsup granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs and has set aside Caltrans’ report on the project but denied without prejudice the plaintiffs’ request for attorney’s fees.  

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