SouthEast Connector Lawsuit Dropped - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

SouthEast Connector Lawsuit Dropped

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Phase 1 of the controversial SouthEast Connector is making big progress, with the Veterans Memorial Bridge taking shape. Once completed, it will be the longest bridge in the Truckee Meadows. And studies show the bridge will not impact flooding.

"We believe when we're finished with this project, we're going to have a transportation and environmental asset for this community that everyone will be proud of," Lee Gibson, RTC Executive Director said.

But many residents, south of the project aren't convinced.

The Upper South East Communities Coalition is still fighting the project, despite dropping its federal lawsuit against the Regional Transportation Commission. They even had a federal lawsuit against RTC to block Phase 1 from happening, saying it violated the Clean Water Act.

The RTC says they followed the law.

The coalition dropped the suit yesterday.

"We believe that the project should never have been segmented and that it should have been one complete project and studied as such," Kimberly Rhodemyre, Upper South East Communities Coalition board member said.

"I think we have been doing a good job," Gibson said. "I think the fact that the lawsuit was withdrawn is indicative of the fact, we have been doing a good job of being stewards of the environment."

Now the Coalition is focusing on stopping Phase 2, which is a 4.5 mile stretch from Clean Water Way to the corner of South Meadows and Veterans Parkways that crosses through wetlands and the Rosewood Lakes Golf Course.

Some residents say it will increase flooding, while destroying wetlands and contaminating the area with mercury.

"Our goal is to work on trying to make sure that the RTC is required to do an environmental impact statement to try and make sure the surrounding communities are not going to be detrimentally impacted," Rhodemyre said.

But the RTC says their plan creates more wetlands and removes invasive plant species.

They say the estimated $215 million project is also good for residents.

"We're going to be having emergency access for folks during flood events," Gibson said. "We won't have Hidden Valley cut off anymore. People will be able to get emergency services up there and evacuate the area."

"We believe that they're taking a project and they're going to compound it with the construction that they're planning," Rhodemyre said.

The Army Corps of Engineers has to approve Phase 2 before work can begin. Permits could be issued as early as December. If that happens, construction could begin by February.

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Written by Paul Nelson
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