United States District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez issued a ruling yesterday against the Coalition for a Sustainable 520 lawsuit to force WSDOT to further study a 4-lane 520 floating bridge with tolls. In short, the suit argued the Environmental Impact Statement did not take a required ‘hard look’ at a range of reasonable design alternatives and dismissed the tolled 4-lane option prematurely (read a more thorough summary here).
Here is the core of Judge Martinez’s ruling, in his own words:
Plaintiff contends that the inclusion of only two bridge designs in the FEIS, the Preferred Alternative and the No-Build option, does not meet the “range of alternatives” requirement, arguing that a “single alternative is not ‘a range.’” … While this argument is logically appealing, it fails as a legal proposition. The mandate of the regulation is that the agency “rigorously explore and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives.” … (emphasis added). It does not use the word “range” or establish a minimum number of alternatives which must be examined. Rather, it mandates examination of the reasonable alternatives, together with a brief explanation as to why other alternatives were eliminated from consideration.
… the 4-Lane Alternative was part of the original consideration for the bridge replacement, as the minimum footprint option. The 4-Lane Alternative was explored and objectively evaluated in the DEIS. The agency determined, on the basis of objective analysis, that it did not meet the first of the project’s three essential goals: that of improving the mobility of people and goods across Lake Washington in the SR 520 corridor. The 4-Lane Alternative was therefore dropped from further consideration as a reasonable alternative, and the basis for that decision was explained in the SEIS and FEIS.
The full ruling can be read here.