What’s at Stake
The road would have been built through one of the largest roadless areas in any national forest, come within a half mile of more than 90 bald eagle nests, and impacted the habitat of black bears, brown bears, marten, mountain goats, moose, wolves, and other animals.
This suit challenged the approval of a highway project that would have extended the road north of Juneau, Alaska, through an inventoried roadless area in the Tongass National Forest to a new ferry terminal. The road threatened key wildlife areas, including bald eagle and Steller sea lion habitat, as well as important recreation, subsistence, and cultural resources.
In February 2009, an Alaska District Court Judge ruled that the Federal Highway Administration and the Alaska Department of Transportation failed to adequately consider ferry alternatives in approving the Juneau Road and ferry mega-project. The decision stopped all construction on the project until the Alaska Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration could do a new environmental impact statement that included ferry alternatives in considering the best option for travel in Lynn Canal. The State defendants pursued an appeal in the Ninth Circuit, where the case was argued in July 2010.
On May 4, 2011, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision in a ruling that made clear that improved ferry service between Juneau and Haines and Skagway must be considered, and that the reasons presented for not doing so were “arbitrary.”