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3/12/2012



Rail News: Passenger Rail

County court dismisses lawsuit against Sound Transit's East Link light-rail project


A Kittitas County Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to stop Sound Transit’s East Link project, confirming the legality of the work under way to extend light rail across Interstate 90’s center lanes to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond, Wash., Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer Jodi Earl said in her CEO Report.

The court issued a summary judgment in a lawsuit filed by Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman, who sought to stop the project.

“The court affirmed that the East Link light-rail project, approved by voters in 2008, is consistent with the plans and agreements that have been in place since before the bridge was built,” Earl wrote.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is nearing completion of the second of three phases to prepare for light-rail construction by adding new HOV lanes, ramps and safety improvements across Lake Washington on I-90, according to Sound Transit officials. Before the reversible center lanes are closed for light rail, the new lanes will provide 24-hour capacity for carpools and buses.

The court held that WSDOT had the authority to lease the I-90 center lanes to Sound Transit for light rail, rejecting the argument made in the lawsuit that the lease violates the 18th Amendment of the Washington State Constitution because Sound Transit is paying adequate compensation for the lanes, agency officials said in prepared statement.

The ruling cited a 1978 federal action that approved construction of the I-90 floating bridge, which contained an express condition that “public transportation shall permanently have first priority in the use of the center lanes,” they said.

“As the region’s population continues growing, East Link will provide tremendous new transportation capacity in the I-90 corridor,” Earl stated in her report. “Final design on East Link will begin this year with construction scheduled to begin in 2015. Trains are expected to begin carrying passengers in 2023.”

 


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