LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — Leander Independent School District has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over permitting issues involving a road proposed six years ago in northwest Austin.
LISD said it has been trying to get an Endangered Species Act permit to build a road between Vandegrift High School and Four Points Middle School since 2016 in order to address safety concerns. LISD said the road is needed to provide another way in and out of the area, especially for emergencies and emergency vehicles. The campuses have more than 4,000 students, teachers and staff members, and right now can only be accessed from RR 2222 off McNeil Drive.
In 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refused to process the district’s permit request until it could buy or control the right-of-way for the road, but Travis County owns part of it and the ground around the schools is designated preserve. The county has previously opposed the project.
LISD said it wants to build the road on an “existing infrastructure corridor that contains several utility lines for the city of Austin and the Lower Colorado River Authority.”
“By requiring Leander ISD to first obtain ownership or control over the right-of-way, USFWS would force Leander ISD to make a costly and unlawful commitment of resources prior to the completion of the federal environmental review process,” the district said in a release.
LISD also said it has gone through the USFWS’ formal appeals process “in an effort to move toward a resolution.” LISD said it agreed not to use the permit “unless and until it subsequently obtains requisite ownership or control of the needed right-of-way.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told KXAN it does not comment on pending litigation.