Water and Wetlands

601 Bridge State Case

In 2006 the SC Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed to widen causeways and construct four new bridges for US Highway 601 within the Congaree National Park, SC’s only National Park.
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The project would fill wetlands that are part of a renowned ecosystem and ignored several environmental concerns including the blockage of sheetflow across the floodplain, disruption of animal migration resulting in deaths, habitat fragmentation and altered hydrology of the floodplain.

DHEC issued a navigable waters permit and a water quality certification, with a number of special conditions. DOT appealed the special conditions and we appealed the permit and certifications. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) based on a limited Environmental Assessment (EA) which meant they were not required to give a full Environmental Impact Statement. We filed suit in Federal District Court to challenge the FONSI and lack of an EIS. More information on that case can be found under 601 Bridge Federal Case.

The state appeal was heard by Administrative Law Judge Ralph King Anderson, III, in October 2007. Judge Anderson issued an order ruling that DHEC had not met regulatory time limits for making its decision and therefore lost the right to impose special conditions on the permit. He also ruled that the DHEC conditions were inappropriate. After careful review, we dismissed our appeal of Judge Anderson’s ruling and focused instead on the Federal case.

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