The opinion of the court was delivered by: GASCH
This case concerns the planned widening of a portion of Interstate Highway 270 ("I-270") in Montgomery County, Maryland. Plaintiffs are the Coalition on Sensible Transportation, the Northern Bethesda Congress of Citizens Associations, the Sierra Club, and the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. Defendants are Elizabeth Dole, the Secretary of Transportation, Ray Barnhart, Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, and Hal Kassoff, Administrator of the State Highway Association ("SHA") of the State of Maryland Department of Transportation.
Two motions are pending. In the first, Kassoff asserts that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction and venue over the claims against him and seeks dismissal of those claims or transfer of the case to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. In the second motion, the federal defendants seek to transfer the case to that court under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) (1982).
I-270 is one of the major arteries of the Washington, D.C. area highway system. The road connects Interstate Highway 70, one of the nation's primary east-west highways, with Interstate Highway 495, the "Beltway" which encircles metropolitan Washington, D.C. A number of bedroom communities, towns, and government agency offices line the I-270 corridor. Accordingly, the highway is a heavily traveled conduit for commuter traffic to and from Washington, D.C.
The I-270 project challenged by plaintiffs would widen approximately sixteen miles of highway at an estimated cost of $113.5 million. From the I-270 spur near Montrose Avenue to the I-270 intersection with Md. Rt. 124, the highway would be widened from six to twelve lanes. From Md. Rt. 124 to Md. Rt. 118, I-270 would be widened from six to eight lanes. Finally, from Md. Rt. 118 to Md. Rt. 121, I-270 would be widened from four to six lanes. The project is expected to take more than five years to complete.
The complaint alleges several violations of federal law arising from administrative consideration of the I-270 project. First, it is contended that defendants have failed to comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321-4347 (1982). This claim revolves around defendants' failure to prepare an environmental impact statement and to adequately consider alternatives. Plaintiffs also insist that defendants improperly divided the I-270 project for purposes of environmental impact review.
Second, plaintiffs assert that the I-270 project will require use of parklands in violation of Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966, 49 U.S.C. § 303 (1982). Third, defendants are alleged to have undertaken the I-270 project in violation of the public hearing requirements of Section 128 of the Federal-Aid Highway Act, 23 U.S.C. § 128 (1982).
A. State Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or Transfer
Since neither Kassoff nor the SHA resides in the District, this Court may assert personal jurisdiction only pursuant to the long-arm statute, D.C. Code § 13-423 (1981 ed.) See Reuber v. United States, 242 U.S. App. D.C. 370, 750 F.2d 1039, 1049 (D.C. Cir. 1984). Plaintiffs bear the burden of establishing an adequate factual basis for long-arm jurisdiction. Id. at 1052; Naartex Consulting Corp. v. Watt, 232 U.S. App. D.C. 293, 722 F.2d 779, 785 (D.C. Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 467 U.S. 1210, 104 S. Ct. 2399, 81 L. Ed. 2d 355 (1984). Here plaintiffs contend that Kassoff and the SHA "transacted business" in the District within the meaning of D.C. Code § 13-423(a)(1).
Plaintiffs assert four bases for long-arm jurisdiction. First, they contend that, because I-270 is within the Washington, D.C. region and affects the commuting of many District residents, there are sufficient "contacts" with the District to satisfy the long-arm statute. Plaintiffs cite no cases, however, in which the mere proximity of a project to the District, and that project's potential impact upon District residents, have been found to constitute "transacting business" under the long-arm statute. Indeed, the court of appeals recently implicitly rejected this type of argument:
While [plaintiff] in its pleadings in the district court contended that the defendants' acts . . . "were intended to have an impact in this District," we cannot reasonably conclude, and [plaintiff] does not here contend, that any "tortious injury" in the District forms the basis for this action. Personal jurisdiction may be exercised over the private defendants, therefore, only if ...