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Case Law Updates on the Environment (CLUE)

Case Law Update Details

Case Title

Monumental Task Committee v. Foxx

Case No.

259 F. Supp. 3d 494

Court

U.S. District Court - Louisiana

State

Louisiana

Date

4/24/2017

Project

New Orleans Streetcars/Monument Removal

Project Type

Transit

Project Description

The plaintiffs alleged that USDOT and FTA violated Section 4(f) and Section 106 in connection with the removal of four Confederate monuments and the approval of six transportation projects involving the streetcar system in New Orleans. Only three of the six streetcar projects were federally funded; the other three were neither federally funded nor subject to federal approval. The monument removal did not involve federal funding and occurred separately from any of the streetcar projects.

Case Summary

As part of a challenge to the New Orleans City Council’s decision to remove the four monuments from public property, the plaintiffs alleged that FTA violated Section 4(f) and Section 106 in connection with the six streetcar projects. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that FTA violated Section 106 and Section 4(f) by failing to study the effects of the entire streetcar network on the monuments, and by failing to carry out additional Section 106 and 4(f) reviews prior to removal of the monuments. The court denied the plaintiffs’ request to conduct additional discovery and granted FTA’s motion to dismiss the claims against it. The court held that removal of the monuments was not subject to Section 4(f) or Section 106 because the streetcar projects would not affect the monuments and removal of the monuments was not federally funded.

Key Holdings

Section 4(f)

Applicability of Section 4(f). The plaintiffs argued that FTA improperly segmented the six streetcar projects and failed to conduct a Section 4(f) analysis of the effect of the totality of the streetcar network on the monuments. The plaintiffs also argued that the streetcar projects would use the monuments and that FTA should have determined whether there was any feasible alternative to removing the monuments. The court held that Section 4(f) did not apply to the three streetcar projects that were neither federally funded nor subject to federal approvals. Section 4(f) reviews for the three federally funded streetcar projects had concluded that each project would have a de minimis impact on historic properties. The court held that the plaintiffs did not show how any of the streetcar projects would cause any adverse effect on the monuments; therefore, the plaintiffs could not demonstrate that the streetcar projects would “use” the monuments. Moreover, the court held that Section 4(f) did not apply to removal of the monuments because the monuments would not be displaced by streetcar tracks and the removal of the monuments was locally funded. The court concluded that the plaintiffs could not demonstrate any Section 4(f) violations, denied the plaintiffs’ request to conduct additional discovery, and dismissed their Section 4(f) claims with prejudice.

Section 106

Applicability of Section 106. The plaintiffs argued that FTA violated Section 106 by failing to consider whether the streetcar network would have adverse effects on adjacent historic properties, including the monuments. The court held that Section 106 did not apply to removal of the monuments because the monuments would not be displaced by streetcar tracks and the removal of the monuments was locally funded. The court concluded that the plaintiffs could not demonstrate any Section 106 violations, denied the plaintiffs’ request to conduct additional discovery, and dismissed their Section 106 claims with prejudice.

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AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials)
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