Despite multiple efforts to halt construction on the Metro’s planned extension of the Purple Line, the project keeps chugging along.
A federal judge’s order Friday essentially green-lit the continued planning and construction of the project’s nearly $2.5 billion second phase through Beverly Hills, although he did impose some additional requirements.
U.S. District Court Judge George Wu denied Beverly Hills Unified School District’s request to halt the project on grounds that there were problems with an environmental impact statement underpinning a $1.2 billion federal grant and $307 million federal loan funding the Purple Line extension. While Wu did tell the government it must supplement its previous environmental impact studies, he said vacating the Federal Transit Authorities finalized environmental impact statement on a project that was indisputably beneficial to the environment would be counter-intuitive.
“The issuance of a vacatur would disrupt and delay the progress of the project and hence meeting the pressing public need,” Wu’s ruling reads.
The Federal Transit Authority, the named defendant in the case, declined to comment on the ruling.
“The Judge properly found that the FTA violated federal environmental law when it approved this segment of the project,” Recine’s statement reads. “The Judge also recognized that given the testimony of Metro's CEO Philip Washington, the analysis FTA must do to correct those violations may well be superficial, and BHUSD will have further claims against FTA.”
New York City-based Jennifer Recine, a partner at Kasowitz and lead counsel for the school district, said in a statement that the ruling found material issues with the FTA’s environmental study and that she planned to “pursue claims” to preserve community resources.
“We are pleased that the judge upheld the FTA’s recommendation of decision (to go forward with the project),” said Metro spokesman David Sotero. “We plan to comply fully with his ruling on the environmental impact study and will probably complete that sometime next Spring.”
Legal reporter Henry Meier can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @henry_meier.