Judge says Longmeadow Parkway construction can proceed
Construction work on the Longmeadow Parkway can restart immediately after a judge's refusal to extend the temporary restraining order that silenced heavy equipment on the 5.6-mile roadway and possible toll bridge more than a week ago.
Work halted while U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman evaluated the potential impact of the $135 million project on the endangered rusty-patched bumblebee. On Friday, Coleman said opponents of the project failed to show the Longmeadow Parkway poses a significant threat to the bees' habitat. The plaintiff's bee expert, entomologist Sydney Cameron, failed to show up and testify Friday in support of an affidavit she filed with the court that said, "construction activity ... is likely to negatively and irreparably affect the rusty-patched bumblebee population in that area."
The judge said Cameron's statement was "not at all definitive" and supportive testimony offered Friday by the original plaintiff, Geoffrey J. Petzel, had "limited value" because he is not a bee expert.
In contrast, evidence for the project moving forward was "much more persuasive that the bee is not likely to be impacted by the construction," the judge wrote.
She also cited ongoing assessment of the Longmeadow Project by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a factor soothing environmental concerns.
Drew Frasz is chairman of the Kane County Board's Transportation Committee, which is overseeing the project. He said even the short delay caused by the temporary restraining order has cost local taxpayers thousands of dollars in delays and costs to move construction equipment from the site.
Frasz said Friday's decision should allow the project, with a little extra push from the construction contractors, to get back on schedule.
"The good news is we're still in the early part of the construction season," he said. "Hopefully it will be full speed ahead next week."
Representatives for the Stop Longmeadow group opposing the project could not be immediately reached for comment Friday.