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The Secretary of Transportation must reach his decision strictly on the merits and in the manner prescribed by statute, without reference to irrelevant or extraneous considerations.
Plaintiff federation of civic associations challenged the construction of the proposed bridge contending that the secretary failed to comply with 23 U.S.C.S. § 138, which required the secretary needed to determine before construction could begin whether there was an alternative use of the land. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia found that appellant Secretary of Transportation (secretary) failed to comply with some statutory provisions relative to the proposed construction of a bridge. The district court enjoined construction of the bridge until the planning had advanced to a stage where structural feasibility was assured.
Did the district court err in enjoining the construction of the bridge in question?
No. However, the court needs some clarification of the factual basis for the district court’s conclusion.
The court found that the district court's judgment finding that the planning for the bridge had not proceeded to a sufficient degree for the responsible officials to determine that the planned facility was structurally feasible was correct. The court also found that the district court was correct in enjoining the construction of the bridge. However, the court required clarification of the factual basis for the district court's conclusion. The court questioned the district court's finding that political pressures prompted the secretary to go forward with the bridge project. Since such considerations played into the decision of the secretary to continue with the bridge, his decision could not stand and required reversal as the secretary must reach his decision strictly on the merits and in the manner prescribed by statute, without reference to irrelevant or extraneous considerations.