The group advocating to save the McBride Viaduct has filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court over plans to demolish it.
Erie CPR is pursuing the legal action on behalf of African-Americans and Hispanics who live in the neighborhood adjacent to the viaduct, according to court documents.
The lawsuit names Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the City of Erie, Erie City Council and Erie Mayor Joe Schember as defendants. It claims they “engaged in a pattern of intentional discrimination” because the “demolition approvals have a discriminatory effect on the African-American and Hispanic plaintiffs who comprise 91% of the McBride Viaduct neighborhood.”
Erie CPR wants the demolition approvals declared invalid. It also said no public hearing was provided prior to the approval of the demolition, violating the civil rights of people who live in the neighborhood. The group is requesting a public hearing to challenge the demolition before the work proceeds. It also wants a protocol to be established for reviewing demolition applications to comply with the civil rights act and an order to apply that protocol to plans to demolish the McBride Viaduct.
Erie City Council approved the $1.5 million demolition contract for the McBride Viaduct Feb. 7 in a 4-3 vote.
PennDOT has already contracted the work to tear down the old bridge, which has been closed to drivers for years, but Erie CPR wants to save it and turn it into a pedestrian walkway.