1st lawsuit filed in Columbia River bridge project

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The first lawsuit aimed at stalling the $3 billion Columbia River crossing project has been filed.

The Oregonian reports that the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods and the Coalition for a Livable Future contend that the Metro Council on Aug. 11 inappropriately used a light-rail siting statute and gave the go-ahead for what is predominantly a freeway project. Three businesses in Northeast Portland or Hayden Island also are challenging Metro's decision.

The Columbia River Crossing intends to rebuild 5.5 miles of Interstate 5 between North Portland and Vancouver and replace the Interstate Bridge. It has drawn intense scrutiny for its price tag and concerns it won't solve the chronic traffic congestion.

The opponents make a highly technical argument that when the Metro Council approved the land-use final order, it relied on a 1996 statute intended to streamline light-rail siting decisions. The statute gave Metro the power to approve the south-north line without having to get the land-use nod from every city and county along the route.

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Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com