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Proposed California construction leads to environmental lawsuit

A group of California citizens has taken the state to court over the construction of a new bridge. The litigation over the enforcement of the state's environmental law could have an impact on businesses throughout the Golden State.

On Aug. 1, 2018, a nonprofit group filed a lawsuit against Caltrans, the California Department of Transportation, that asks the court to stop the state's planned removal of a historic bridge and the construction of a new span in Point Reyes Station until other options are considered. The lawsuit alleges that the state's plans violate both the California Environmental Quality Act, commonly known as CEQA, and federal environmental compliance law.

Caltrans engineers want to replace the 90-year-old structure with a new bridge that will meet 21st-century requirements for earthquake resistance. However, the lawsuit asks that the state formally consider retrofitting the bridge, which the citizens believe will cut down on water pollution and noise and traffic issues. Some residents are also concerned that the new bridge, which would be 6 feet wider, could lead to unwanted land development.

The bridge lawsuit is a good example of how complex laws from different governmental agencies can lead to litigation that can stall new construction. Protecting the environment is an important issue for many Californians. That's why it's important for some businesses to retain legal counsel who understands CEQA and other state and federal environmental regulations. A lawyer could arrange for a risk assessment for chemical exposure issues and potentially resolve zoning disputes over land usage. Also, California's many natural wonders can lead to the need for natural resource usage surveys and marshland protection that can be handled with the assistance of an environmental law firm.

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