Press Release

State Seeks to Intervene in Juneau Access Lawsuit

October 24, 2006

(Anchorage) Attorney General David Márquez announced today that the state has moved to intervene in a U.S. District Court lawsuit filed by the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) against the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation involving the Juneau Access improvement project.

On August 16, 2006 SEACC and various other groups filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief in federal court to enjoin contract award or construction of the first segment of the Juneau access project. The plaintiffs assert various violations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other environmental rules. The plaintiffs also challenge the final environmental impact statement (EIS) approved by the FHA.

"This lawsuit could hinder or prevent construction of the first segment of this project, which is a project that will ultimately make the state's capital more accessible to its citizens and reduce transportation costs of people and goods to Juneau, while still protecting the environment," said Márquez. "The state also has an interest in this case because the State Department of Transportation and Public Facilities took a lead role in the environmental work being challenged."

In order to protect the state's transportation and environmental protection interests, the Department of Law filed a motion to intervene in the litigation as a full party defendant. Plaintiffs have indicated that they will not challenge this request. If the court grants the motion the state will have the ability to participate in every aspect of the litigation. "This direct participation in the lawsuit will ensure that the state's interests are adequately protected, and that issues specific to the State of Alaska are brought to the Court's attention," said Márquez.

"I commend the Attorney General for taking this step," said Governor Frank H. Murkowski. "While the named defendants in this lawsuit are involved in funding and oversight of this project, the Juneau Access Project is vital to the state's long-term statewide transportation improvement plan. It is absolutely essential that an important community such as Juneau, which is a major Southeast Alaska population center and the state capital, become integrated into America's National Highway System."

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