An alliance of environmental groups and Portland's NE Coalition of Neighborhoods officially filed a long-expected federal lawsuit today to try to halt the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) I-5 expansion and bridge project.

The lawsuit (pdf) essentially demands that the federal transportation agencies that signed off on the CRC plans renege on their approval and force the project to re-do its environmental and traffic math, potentially coming up with an entirely different plan for the future of the freeway between Portland and Vancouver.

"We want the federal agencies to rework their outdated analysis that led to this bridge that's too large and too expensive," says lawuit-filer Mara Gross, of Coalition for a Livable Future. The group contends that the big bridge staff didn't do a thorough evaluation of the impact of increased traffic on air quality, doesn't do enough to protect salmon in the Columbia, and is built on faulty traffic analysis. "We have seen that the traffic analyses are outdated, so that leads to overstating the need for a large freeway."

The lawsuit is a long-term process; Gross estimates there won't be any decision on it for at least a year. In the meantime, the lawsuit does not stop the bridge project from rolling forward—the bridge is now supposed to break ground in 2014.