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Originally published Wednesday, October 7, 2009 at 11:11 AM

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State sued over tunnel plan on environmental grounds

The state Department of Transportation is "making a mockery" of environmental laws by recruiting construction firms to work on the Seattle waterfront tunnel plan before environmental-impact studies are completed in 2011, a new lawsuit alleges.

The state Department of Transportation is "making a mockery" of environmental laws by recruiting construction firms to work on the Seattle waterfront tunnel plan before environmental-impact studies are completed in 2011, a new lawsuit alleges.

The complaint, by Magnolia resident Elizabeth Campbell and other opponents of the tunnel plan, was filed Tuesday in King County Superior Court, said attorney David Bricklin, a longtime specialist in environmental law.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and other politicians declared in January they will pursue a bored tunnel — only two months after the Washington State Department of Transportation announced that surface and elevated plans were the two finalists to replace the old Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The lawsuit asks that WSDOT be banned from focusing engineering work solely on the tunnel next year, and from offering $2 million stipends to encourage tunneling firms to prepare their bids.

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