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Mid County Parkway survives second environmental challenge

By in Press Enterprise on July 10, 2017

By Craig Shultz

The Mid County Parkway, a proposed road project that would link Perris and San Jacinto, has survived a second environmental challenge.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Sharon Waters last week ruled in favor of the Riverside County Transportation Commission, which is spearheading the project, rejecting a legal challenge to its Environmental Impact Report under the California Environmental Quality Act.

In May, a federal judge rejected a similar legal challenge.

“We’ve had resolute confirmation, both federally and statewide, about how stringent our environmental process is,” said San Jacinto City Councilman Andrew Kotyuk, the city’s representative on the RCTC board.

The Mid County Parkway is a proposed 16-mile east-west highway corridor linking Perris and San Jacinto between Interstate 215 and Highway 79. Proponents say the roadway is necessary to move a growing population across the county while foes say it will cut through low-income neighborhoods, threaten wildlife areas and worsen air pollution.

Kotyuk said the road will benefit residents in his city, who tend to be lower-income and underemployed.

“We feel our community has been underserved,” Kotyuk said. “This corridor is going to benefit those socioeconomics.”

Opponents say the project would displace 99 homes and 26 businesses in Perris, affecting 396 residents and 171 employees.

The county judge rejected the plaintiffs’ contention that the environmental document contained a number of deficiencies and had failed to adopt greenhouse gas emission mitigation measures, according to RCTC. The judge also found that the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust their administrative alternatives as to certain challenges to the project.

The lawsuit, filed in May 2015, alleged that the project is based on faulty premises.

The plaintiffs — Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, Friends of the Northern San Jacinto Valley and the San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society — have the opportunity to appeal the ruling.

“We’re disappointed that the court ruled in favor of […]    

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