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Exit 7 battle continues with court motions

January 31, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Greene Township couple has asked the Pennsylvania Supreme Court not to grant a motion from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to speed up arguments on a proposed interchange off Interstate 81, according to their attorney.

Lamar and Lois White, of 1383 Walker Road, filed the motion Friday seeking to delay oral arguments on the proposed Exit 7.

In August, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court decided in the Whites' favor, ruling that the Department of Transportation had to have its plan for the exit reviewed by the state Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board, or ALCAB.

In October, the department requested the Supreme Court to expedite oral arguments in the case, according to a press release from the White's attorney Tom Linzey of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

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According to the Shippensburg, Pa., attorney, the department's petition claimed "any further delays in the project would cause the loss of another construction season." In January, the court formally asked the White's for a response to the motion, after the state's highest court decided it would hear the case.

Linzey said last year he believed the court has no jurisdiction in the case, since it was an appeal by the department against a lower court ruling.

In the release, Linzey said "any further delay in the project" was the department's responsibility and that the department to submit the project to ALCAB at any time. The Commonwealth Court had ruled that the ALCAB review was necessary because the interchange was new road construction, not expansion of an existing road.

"This is just another way to waste the court's time with unnecessary motions," according to Linzey. He called the exit a "boondoggle project" in the news release.

In 1987 the federal government allocated $5 million for the highway demonstration project, which was supposed to show how the interchange could relieve traffic congestion on I-81. Since then estimates of the project's cost have more than doubled, according to proponents and opponents.

The project would join the borough of Chambersburg, Greene and Guilford townships, but Greene Township spent more than $800,000 fighting the project over several years. The Whites filed their suit against the Department of Transportation last May.

Earlier this month Linzey and transportation officials both said at could take a year before the Supreme Court settles the issue.

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