Highway 101 work in Humboldt County sparks protests

  • Humboldt county resident Babbett Kurtz, joined others north state residents in a demonstration against the widening of Highway 101 through the Richardson Grove State Park, held at the Department of Transportation office in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, June 22, 2011. More then two dozen people protested against the Richard Grove Improvement Project, which would widen the highway to allow bigger trucks on the road.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SAN FRANCISCO— A group of residents in California's north coast has asked a federal judge in San Francisco to stop a state highway project in a grove of towering, ancient redwood trees.

The California Department of Transportation in January plans to remove dozens of trees and realign a section of Highway 101 through Richardson Grove State Park so it can be added to a national system of roads that cater to large semi-trucks.

Local businesses say this narrow section roadway is a barrier to economic growth, and sends shipping costs in the area through the roof.

The environmentalists argue the road work will damage the root systems of the area's ancient redwoods — including the world's 9th tallest — and open up the area to more semi-truck traffic, pollution and development.

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