FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Two local non-profits are suing to stop a highway project from moving forward. But Caltrans is fighting back.
The site of the South Fresno State Route 99 Corridor Project is at the center of the controversy.
According to the website, Caltrans states the purpose of the project is to improve traffic operations at the interchanges at American Avenue and North Avenue and to bring them up to current standards.
But Fresno Building Healthy Communities and Friends of Calwa have joined forces to sue Caltrans to try to stop it from moving forward.
The groups argue the interchange will support the buildout of thousands of acres of industrial zoned land surrounding homes, schools, parks, and places of worship in South Fresno.
"There's no inclusion of what's happening to the community members that are facing a lot of impacts from the diesel trucks, the air quality," said Ivanka Saunders with the Leadership Council for Justice & Accountability
The non-profits also argue the project disproportionately impacts underserved communities. Gloria Hernandez with Mothers Helping Mothers agrees it would negatively impact the families she serves.
"It's inequitable because it's going to affect the people of color who happen to be the poorest people and are able to afford to get the asthma medicine," said Hernandez, "it's going to be unfair."
On Wednesday, a judge took up the issue in Fresno County Superior Court. Action News was inside but not allowed to record video.
The judge heard objections from Caltrans to the lawsuit.
An attorney for the agency raised issues with when and how the claim was filed, saying the petitioners did not act in good faith.
Caltrans has also stated the project itself would lower air emissions and improve access for businesses in the area.
The judge ultimately decided not to issue an official ruling, but rather take more time to consider all the facts in the case.
ABC30 has been reaching out to Caltrans. The agency said it's working on a response.