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A federal judge has temporarily halted construction on Kane County's Longmeadow Parkway project because of its potential harm to an endangered type of bumblebee.The Stop Longmeadow group Monday filed a lawsuit and a request for a temporary restraining order,...

Longmeadow Parkway construction stopped over endangered bees

A federal judge has temporarily halted construction on Kane County's Longmeadow Parkway project because of its potential harm to an endangered type of bumblebee.The Stop Longmeadow group Monday filed a lawsuit and a request for a temporary restraining order,...

Longmeadow Parkway construction stopped over endangered bees

A federal judge has temporarily halted construction on Kane County's Longmeadow Parkway project because of its potential harm to an endangered type of bumblebee.

The Stop Longmeadow group Monday filed a lawsuit and a request for a temporary restraining order, claiming project leaders have failed to consider how the 5.6-mile roadway and possible toll bridge would affect the rusty patched bumblebee. The bee, added to the endangered species list last month, was found along the parkway's route in the Brunner Family Forest Preserve, according to court documents.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman granted the restraining order, stopping the construction scheduled to begin that day on the project's next phase in Algonquin. A status hearing was also scheduled for 11 a.m. April 28.

"The restraining order has given people renewed hope and momentum to the cause," said Jo Ann Fritz, a member of Stop Longmeadow, which has been fighting the parkway for years. "It's huge. We've stopped a multimillion-dollar project."

For the Kane County Division of Transportation, the delay could mean additional costs amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, Director Carl Schoedel said. The section of the parkway from Randall Road to Karen Drive -- for which the county has authorized a $13.3 million construction contract -- is expected to be complete this year, he said.

"Every day that we're not working during the construction season is a potential delay to the project," Schoedel said. "You can make up time by working overtime and Saturdays. All of that has a cost."

Federal and county defendants had also argued Stop Longmeadow can't prove irreparable harm because funding and permits have not yet been issued for the section of the roadway that could interfere with the bee's habitat.

The presence of the endangered bumblebee could mean more work for the county during the next permitting process, Schoedel said, such as carefully relocating the species or conducting additional studies.

Protecting endangered species is just one of several issues fueling Stop Longmeadow's fight against the project, Fritz said. The group's lawsuit claims the project violates a handful of other federal statues, and the community's opposition to the parkway is stronger than ever, she said.

"It's important for all of us to be vigilant," Fritz said. "This is far from a done deal."

Regardless of the group's tactics, Algonquin Village President John Schmitt said stalling or ending the project, which has been in the works for decades, causes more harm than good. Citing anticipated population growth, he said Longmeadow Parkway is necessary to mitigate regional traffic congestion.

"I can't imagine there's any way they're going to kill this project," Schmitt said. "All they're going to do is delay it and cost more money, and what purpose does that serve?"

• Daily Herald staff writer James Fuller contributed to this story.

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