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Hwy 23 Corridor Expansion – a Project with Significant Environmental Impacts

Hwy 23 Corridor Expansion – a Project with Significant Environmental Impacts
Image Credit: Fond du Lac Reporter https://www.fdlreporter.com/story/news/local/2014/09/11/wisconsin-stop-building-bigger-highways/15474437/

Image Credit: Fond du Lac Reporter. https://www.fdlreporter.com

WisDOT wants to expand Wisconsin State Highway 23  from an existing two-lane roadway to four travel lanes separated by a median on an approximately 19-mile segment between US 151 in Fond du Lac County and County P in Sheboygan County.

The intent of the project is to designate Hwy 23 as an expressway and to construct the proposed 4-lane highway, along with expanded interchanges and a recreational trail, using state and federal funds at an estimated cost of approximately $128 million, plus $38 million in costs for mapping and acquiring property to preserve a corridor for eventual future conversion of the highway to a freeway.

 

This is a Project with significant environmental impacts. It would

  • convert 424 acres of land (including 225 acres of cropland) and 48 acres of wetland to highway right of way;
  • affect 48 acres of upland or woodland habitat;
  • displace 33 residences, 19 farms, and 10 other businesses;
  • sever an additional 5 farms;
  • encroach on floodplains; and
  • affect several threatened and endangered species.

As this is a major federal action within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Defendants were required, among other things, to consider reasonable alternatives to the Project, to evaluate the effects of the Project, including its social, economic, air quality, indirect and cumulative effects, and to provide for public participation in the decision-making process by preparing draft environmental documents describing the project and their decision-making, and allowing public input in response to those drafts.

We, the plaintiff, contend that the Defendants’ final action approving the expressway project was unlawful because it was based on an inadequate and improper environmental review process and a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) that FHWA and Defendant WisDOT prepared without fair, objective and adequate consideration of reasonable alternatives to the project; and without fair, objective and adequate consideration of the environmental impacts of the project.

Read the full brief here.