Elizabeth Campbell and Seattle Citizens Against the Tunnel have filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and WSDOT director Paula Hammond in King County Superior Court to stop the proposed waterfront Alaskan Way tunnel, arguing that WSDOT is "making a mockery of" the state environmental review process by moving forward with the $4.2 billion deep-bore tunnel without having completed a required environmental review. Campbell, an activist who supports rebuilding the viaduct, filed a similar but separate suit in US district court last month.

"The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project has not been completed, and, according to WSDOT, it will not be completed until 2011," the lawsuit says. "Until the EIS is completed, WSDOT (and all other participating agencies, like the City of Seattle) from making decisions which pre-judge the choice among alternatives being analyzed in detail in the final EIS," which include the surface/transit alternative and an elevated highway alternative.

The DOT has already begun the process of selecting a company to perform the deep-bore tunneling work. That presumes that of all the alternatives under consideration, the tunnel is the one that will move forward.

"Essentially, the tunnel project will have been underway for a year and a half by the time WSDOT formally makes its decision," the lawsuit says. "Given WSDOT's urgency to proceed with a replacement for the viaduct, that year and a half head start will create a huge advantage for the tunnel option. ... WSDOT's actions effectively preclude WSDOT from using the results of its environmental review in its decision-making process as required by [the State Environmental Policy Act]."

The lawsuit argues that the tunnel would result in more pollution and greenhouse-gas emissions.

"SEPA's policy of ensuring that government decisions are made 'by definition, not default' requires intervention by the court at this time," the complaint concludes. "Yet WSDOT and other State officials are treating the requirements of analyzing and comparing the impacts of the deep bore tunnel and the competing alternatives as an inconvenient formality."

The lawsuit seeks to enjoin the state from moving forward with the tunnel before the environmental review process is completed.