SPOKANE, Wash. -- The federal government on Friday issued a preliminary approval for a huge and contentious highway project to divert traffic away from the core of the resort community of Sandpoint, Idaho.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a draft permit to the Idaho Transportation Department to construct the $70 million Sand Creek Byway, which is opposed by many environmentalists.
The permit included extensive conditions to minimize impacts to Sand Creek, which flows through town into Lake Pend Oreille.
If the Transportation Department agrees to the conditions, the corps will issue a permit allowing Idaho to begin the preparation work for the byway, located about 90 miles northeast of Spokane.
Environmental groups oppose the 2.1-mile project because it would dredge and fill portions of the creek and wetlands.