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Sutherland advises on efforts to identify a better route for a proposed new highway in Georgia.


When the Georgia Department of Transportation decided to build a highway through environmentally sensitive and historically important land, the landowners hired Sutherland to convince the state to choose a different, less-expensive alternative. After Sutherland obtained a ruling that a historical mining site is federally-protected, the Federal Highway Administration recently directed the state to consider reasonable alternative routes for the proposed U.S. 411 Connector.

Since the 1980s, the Georgia DOT has been looking to provide the City of Rome with a limited access highway to connect to Interstate 75. The proposed route through our clients’ 1,800 acre property was the third option the agency selected. Once the landowners learned that the latest plan was on the verge of federal approval (in 2009), they engaged Sutherland to review their legal options and lead a team of experts involved with the search for a better alternative. The team compiled evidence that the proposed route is significantly more expensive than reasonable alternatives. The team has identified how the proposed route would violate federal law by adversely affecting a significant wildlife refuge, as well as an historic mining landscape that has been determined to be eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The proposed highway route would also cut through Dobbins Mountain, leading to acid drainage, which would damage the sensitive Etowah River watershed and the endangered Cherokee darters that live there.

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