Judge denies permit for I-95 interchange project in Volusia County

0

An administrative law judge ruled Monday that a permit must be denied for the new Interstate 95 interchange in Volusia County because the Florida Department of Transportation has not shown that it “clearly serves the public interest.”

Watch Eyewitness News on Channel 9

Judge E. Gary Early issued a 55-page recommended order stating that the St. Johns River Water Management District must deny what is known as an environmental resource permit for the proposed interchange between Port Orange and New Smyrna Beach, south of Daytona Beach.

The district last February approved the permit, but faced a challenge from groups Bear Warriors United, the Sweetwater Coalition of Volusia County and two individuals. The early decision was contingent on constructing a canal in the project area designated as “Outstanding Florida Waters.”

Read the entire I-95 project report at Pioneer Trail here.

Florida’s outstanding water designation requires the Department of Transportation to show that the project “clearly serves the public interest,” Early wrote. He said the Water Management District determined the department met the test because the planned intersection would help with traffic safety issues such as hurricane evacuation.

However, the judge wrote that the public interest test is “limited to interests of an environmental nature” and that traffic safety factors did not determine whether a project met the test.

Read: A controversial new bill could ban the flying of certain flags in government buildings, schools and universities

“But for the public interest test, DOT has demonstrated that the project meets all relevant ERP (Environmental Resource Permit) standards,” Early wrote. “If this case does not involve OFW (Outstanding Florida Waters), and if the criterion for issuance is whether the project is not inconsistent with the public interest, the undersigned will not hesitate to recommend the issuance of the permit. However, this case concerns OFWs The criterion is whether the project clearly serves the public interest.

As a result, he wrote, “it is concluded that no reasonable assurances have been provided that the activities permitted by the permit are clearly in the public interest. The (permit) application must therefore be denied.”

Read: Funeral homes sent warning letters over alleged price transparency violations

Under administrative law, Early’s recommendation will go to the Water Management District for final action.

The proposed 74-acre project would create an interchange on the Pioneer Trail, which now includes an I-95 overpass, according to Early’s ruling. The project has been studied for years, with the Ministry of Transport submitting a permit application to the region in February 2022.

READ: Lawmakers introduce bill that would force counties to crack down on illegal homeless encampments

A 2017 Department of Transportation report noted that the interchange has the potential to aid growth in the region.

“The purpose and need for the proposed interchange on I-95 at Pioneer Trail is to support the economic viability and job creation associated with planned and approved future development in the vicinity of the study area, reduce congestion at adjacent I-95 interchanges and to provide better commuter service,” an executive summary of the report said. Regional originating from and heading to the study area.” “In addition, Volusia County and the cities of Port Orange and New Smyrna Beach identified the benefits of emergency evacuation conditions that could be achieved through the interchange on I-95 at Pioneer Trail.”

Volusia County's mayor is calling for a state investigation into the controversial interchange project.

Volusia County’s mayor is calling for a state investigation into the controversial interchange project.

Volusia County's mayor is calling for a state investigation into the controversial interchange project.

Volusia County’s mayor is calling for a state investigation into the controversial interchange project.

Volusia County's mayor is calling for a state investigation into the controversial interchange project.

Volusia County’s mayor is calling for a state investigation into the controversial interchange project.

Volusia County's mayor is calling for a state investigation into the controversial interchange project.

Volusia County’s mayor is calling for a state investigation into the controversial interchange project.

Volusia County's mayor is calling for a state investigation into the controversial interchange project.

Volusia County’s mayor is calling for a state investigation into the controversial interchange project.

Volusia County's mayor is calling for a state investigation into the controversial interchange project.

Volusia County’s mayor is calling for a state investigation into the controversial interchange project.

Volusia County's mayor is calling for a state investigation into the controversial interchange project.

Volusia County’s mayor is calling for a state investigation into the controversial interchange project.

click here Download our free news, weather and smart TV apps. And click here Eyewitness News is broadcast live on Channel 9.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.