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.