LA Metro Wins 9th Circuit Appeal Over Light Rail Environmental Impact

By George Khoury, Esq. on December 08, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The downtown Los Angeles underground light rail has finally gotten the green light from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Two downtown businesses, a shopping plaza and a hotel, filed suit back in 2013 to stop the construction, claiming that the construction would have a negative impact on their businesses. The two businesses specifically claimed that the noise from the construction, as well as other impacts from the construction, would disturb the retail mall's shoppers as well as the hotel's guests.

Last year, the federal court granted summary judgment against the businesses, however the businesses appealed. After over three years of litigation, it looks like the construction may finally begin on the new lines.

How Did the Businesses Hold Off Construction?

The businesses claimed that the required environmental impact report that the transit authority performed was inadequate. In the underlying case, there were a few temporary injunctions ordered that required the transit authority to prove additional compliance. Ordinarily this would have forestalled construction, but the project has been woefully behind schedule since the start.

The primary concern of both businesses was the noise that the construction project would cause. Of particular concern for the hotel was the fact that nighttime construction was being planned. Hopefully when construction actually begins, it will proceed on time so as to provide as little disruption as possible to the local residents and businesses.

9th Circuit Has Perfect Timing

The timing of the decision couldn't be better, as LA voters approved a measure to funnel quite a bit of money into pubic transportation. The recently-passed Measure M will generate about $120 billion over a 40-year period for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority "to build new highway projects and expand bus and rail lines," according to the LA Times. So, the construction project should not face any lack of funding, nor public support. The increase in light rail lines is anticipated to help reduce traffic congestion on the Los Angeles motorways.

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