Parties in an ongoing lawsuit seeking to change the construction path for an extension of the South Lawrence Trafficway have tried mediation and come to an impasse, said an attorney for the plaintiffs in the case.
Earlier, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil issued a 59-page decision affirming the process used by the Federal Highway Administration to align an extension of the trafficway along what would be 32nd Street. The route would complete the connection between Kansas Highway 10 and Interstate 70.
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and six other environmental groups who filed the lawsuit appealed the ruling to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in April.
They contend that the proposed route through the Baker Wetlands violates federal environmental law.
Bob Eye, an attorney representing the group wanting to move the road, said both parties had already tried mediation and didn’t come to a resolution.
David Aemmer, chief circuit mediator for the court of appeals in Denver, could not discuss the transportation case specifically, but he explained how mediation generally worked at the appeals court level.
He said that usually mediation for civil cases happens automatically. A staff of mediators will meet with attorneys from both sides and will determine whether a settlement can be arranged.
The meetings and discussions are confidential and can occur even as the regular court case is proceeding, Aemmer said.
The mediator’s office has the power to grant each side additional time to file briefs — as happened in this case, according to court documents.
That can be a sign that productive discussions toward a settlement are occurring, Aemmer said.
In this case, Eye said, the mediator allowing more time to file briefs “may have been more wishful thinking” than an indication that a settlement could be reached.