The Parkway Project in Pennsylvania will unjustly affect black residents, NAACP claims in a new lawsuit.
Earthjustice and PennFuture have teamed up to file a lawsuit on behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) against the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reducing pedestrian access to the bay. In this way, minorities and low-income residents living in the region are unlawfully harmed.
The Department of Transportation has drawn up a $ 100 million plan that will incorporate several significant changes, including the construction of roundabouts, pedestrian walkways and underpasses to increase traffic and thereby improve neighborhood access to Presque Isle Bay. Brian A. McNulty, the area’s chief PennDOT official, said, “At the heart of the project is to better connect travelers of all types from the city of Erie to the bay.”
In the lawsuit, the NAACP disagrees, saying that the plan will actually reduce access to an area by acting as a “fortified barrier” that “hinders the historically black neighborhoods around them all the more while also reducing air and traffic.” Water quality deteriorates. The lawsuit also alleges, “PennDOT has ignored concerns of local residents about moving forward with its plans by using an environmental review shortcut procedure illegally granted by the Federal Highway Administration.” The Federal Motorway Administration is also named as the defendant in the lawsuit.
Photo by Terry McKay on Unsplash
“Members of our NAACP unit and generations of Erie Bay residents have seen similar projects that promise promising improvements that have not been realized for our community. With the Parkway Project’s clear priorities of attracting conventions and out-of-town visitors, our voice and opinion about the character and needs of the neighborhood are once again being ignored, ”said Gary Horton, president of the NAACP’s Erie Chapter. “People have lived here, and we have lived here since the 19th century, when West Erie Bayfront was called New Jerusalem and the ancestors of current NAACP members settled in the area. We deserve to have the opportunity to comment on parkway design and be taken seriously by the companies looking to expand the parkway and increase traffic in our neighborhoods. “
Angela Kilbert, a PennFuture attorney, added, “PennDOT has not carried out a thorough assessment of the impact of this project on Erie’s valuable environmental resources, including the long-term effects on water quality in Millcreek and Presque Isle Bay. Rainwater runoff is already a major threat to water quality in the Lake Erie watershed. This project will result in more traffic and more impermeable surfaces, creating more runoff into the bay, negatively affecting water quality and increasing flood potential. “
Plaintiffs want to ensure that the affected communities do not have to suffer any negative consequences if more wingers and traffic are drawn into the area, including potentially significant environmental problems. The groups want to block federal funding for the Bayfront Parkway until changes are made that comply with federal environmental law.
Earth justice attorney Jill Witkowski Heaps said the lawsuit was “part of a larger statewide settlement of how highways built by minority communities have contributed to redlining and structural racism. Such highways were designed to meet the needs of motorists, but have decimated the communities they pass through. “
NAACP files suit over Erie Highway Plan, Waterfront Access
Groups file lawsuit against PennDOT, Fed. Hwy Admin, Erie Bayfront Parkway Project