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Tunnel delayed

(AP) -- Completion of California's first highway tunnel project in a half-century will be delayed again as crews complete finishing touches.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Devil's Slide tunnels -- which will replace a segment of Highway 1 that snakes alongside the Pacific Ocean near Half Moon Bay -- will not open by year's end as previously predicted.

Caltrans spokesman Bob Haus says the twin 4,200-foot tunnels are finished except for some of the operating systems, so the opening date was pushed back to early 2013.

Devil's Slide is so named because of the massive boulders sometimes fall from nearby cliffs onto the roadway during storms.

Excavation began in 2007 and has cost an estimated $439 million, more than $100 million more than originally forecast.

All lit up

(AP) -- The western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is getting spruced up with 25,000 white LED lights, transforming the gray, workhorse of a bridge into a light sculpture.

The Contra Costa Times reported that the $8 million, privately funded project will be done by March.

It would be the largest such light sculpture in the world; four times bigger than the installation on Paris' Eiffel Tower.

New York light sculptor Leo Villareal says the idea is to help people see the bridge in a new way.

It will also add some pizazz to the old span when the new eastern portion of the bridge opens later in 2013.

To prevent distracted driving, the lights won't be viewable by drivers, but from the shoreline.

Two NM wildfires

(AP) -- Two massive wildfires raced across tinder dry forests in southern New Mexico in 2012, setting records for the largest and most destructive fires in the state's recorded history.

In Colorado, the worst fire season in a decade has yet to be fully extinguished.

Dense pockets within Rocky Mountain National Park continue to smolder just days before the New Year.

Statistics from the National Interagency Fire Center show more than 9.2 million acres have been charred by wildfire so far this year.

Colorado, California, Idaho and several Western states saw more land burned in 2012 than the previous year.

There is some good news despite the records set in New Mexico and the dry weather and above-average temperatures felt across the region.

The statistics show Arizona, New Mexico and Texas had substantially fewer acres blackened this year than in 2011.

Mortgage securities suits

(Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc., Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and UBS AG were sued in separate cases in New York, accused of fraud in the sale of a total of $845 million in mortgage securities.

DZ Bank AG sued Citigroup and RBS, while HSH Nordbank AG sued UBS (NYSE: UBS) and RBS (NYSE: RBS), according to papers filed Friday in New York State Supreme Court.

The German banks say offering materials contained misrepresentations about loans backing the securities, leading to losses.

“Defendants' wrongdoing has led directly to plaintiffs’ damages, which include both realized losses and loss of market value on the securities,” DZ Bank and another entity, DG Holding Trust, said in the Citigroup (NYSE: C) filing.

The cases add to claims against Wall Street banks over mortgage loans bundled into securities and sold during the U.S. housing boom.

DZ Bank and HSH Nordbank have previously sued other lenders, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The DZ Bank case against Citigroup involves $362 million in securities, while its RBS claims stem from $279 million in securities, according to court papers.

The HSH Nordbank case against UBS is over $150 million in bonds, and its RBS suit involves $54 million.

All the cases were filed by the same New York-based law firm, Labaton Sucharow LLP.

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