Would failure to build highway through national conservation area trigger gridlock, damage economy?

The Northern Corridor, a proposed four-lane highway in St. George, has sparked controversy as officials and environmental groups clash over its potential impact on the endangered Mojave desert tortoise. Local officials argue that the highway is necessary to alleviate traffic congestion and support economic growth, while environmental groups contend that it would damage critical tortoise habitat.

In response to a decision by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider the approval of the Northern Corridor, a coalition of environmental groups sued the federal government, alleging violations of federal law. The settlement of the lawsuit has placed the right-of-way on hold while federal agencies conduct a supplemental environmental impact statement.

While local officials anticipate dire consequences for traffic and economic development if the Northern Corridor is not built, environmentalists believe there are viable alternatives to the highway. They argue that the potential environmental damage caused by the construction of the highway far outweighs any perceived benefits in easing traffic congestion.

Public comments on the supplemental environmental impact statement are being accepted until December 21, with a public meeting scheduled for December 6 to address questions and concerns. The ongoing debate over the Northern Corridor continues to be a point of contention between local officials and environmental advocates, with both sides presenting diverging views on the best course of action.

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