Story last updated at 2/18/2009 - 11:39 am
JUNEAU - A federal judge has overturned the permits for the Juneau Access highway up Lynn Canal, handing road building advocates a major defeat. The $350 million road had been on hold, awaiting outcome of the court case. Judge John Sedwick of the Alaska District Court ruled Friday that enhanced ferry service should have been studied as an option for improving access to Juneau. Sedwick said that could be done without building a road, something the Environmental Impact Statement should have included among the alternatives that it reviewed.
The state Department of Transportation wants to build the 50.8 mile road north to a new ferry terminal at Katzehin, where newly constructed shuttle ferries would make regular runs to Haines and Skagway. Sedwick overturned the federal Record of Decision, which allows the Juneau Road to get federal money, and also vacated a related U.S. Forest Service permit.
The lawsuit by environmentalists was against the Federal Highway Administration and the Forest Service, with the state of Alaska intervening to support the highway.