Today US District Judge Christopher Cooper ruled against the request for an injunction in the lawsuit
brought by the Committee of 100
over the plans and process around the expansion of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel
"Before the Court is an application by the Committee for a preliminary injunction prohibiting DDOT from issuing the necessary permits for reconstruction of the tunnel to begin. The bar for obtaining a preliminary injunction pending resolution of a suit on the merits is high, and the Court concludes that it has not been cleared here. On the record before the Court, the Committee has not established that its suit is likely to succeed on the merits. Nor has it shown that the potential environmental harm of reconstruction outweighs the public benefit from modernizing the tunnel. The Court will, accordingly, deny the Committee's application."
There then follows 40 pages of discussion of the legal merits of each of the Committee of 100's points of contention, before concluding:
"The Court concludes the balance of the equities tips decidedly in the Defendants' favor, and particularly towards the public interest. As discussed above, the Committee's contentions that a new tunnel will lead to more accidents and a greater risk of terrorist attack are speculative at best. And with the exception of the removal of some 200 trees, the Committee has not established that any environmental effects of the construction activity will be severe or irreparable."
It goes on to say that, while a resident's misgivings about a large-scale construction project outside her windows are "understandable," those concerns "do not outweigh the broader public's substantial interest in modernizing this deteriorating and outmoded tunnel."
This is not necessarily the end of the lawsuit--it just means that there is nothing preventing DDOT from issuing the permits that would allow CSX to begin work on the project while the lawsuit continues to wind its way through the process.
And perhaps this is as good a time as any to mention that CSX's next quarterly open house
is scheduled for April 23 from 4:30 to 7:30 pm at the Courtyard by Marriott at 140 L St., SE.