Sound Transit threatens legal action if Mercer Island sues over HOV-lane access

Sound Transit said it will sue to block Mercer Island’s threatened lawsuit over the planned closure of access ramps to Interstate 90 when light-rail construction begins in June.

Sound Transit’s CEO Tuesday vowed to take “all legal actions necessary” to block Mercer Island’s threatened lawsuit over the planned closure of Interstate 90’s center lanes when light-rail construction to the Eastside begins in June.

Peter Rogoff said the agency will continue to negotiate with the city over potential traffic mitigation but warned that delays to the East Link project pose “significant risks of increased costs to regional taxpayers and significant delays to opening the project in 2023.”

The Mercer Island City Council on Monday night voted unanimously to sue Sound Transit and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) over the scheduled lane closure and the closure of the city’s access ramps at Island Crest Way. Island drivers currently enjoy direct access from Island Crest Way to the freeway’s high-occupancy-vehicle lanes, even for solo drivers.

City leaders say they aren’t trying to block light-rail construction across the island, but object to the planned closure of the island’s busiest entrance ramp without any plans to mitigate the expected traffic congestion.

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“After two years of negotiation, we still have not reached a satisfactory agreement with Sound Transit and WSDOT that would avoid the diversion of heavy commuter traffic to local neighborhood streets and school zones. No community would accept that,” said Mercer Island Mayor Bruce Bassett.

The City Council agreed to authorize legal action to temporarily halt the shutdown of the center roadway and Island Crest Way onramps. The council also imposed a six-month moratorium on any permits needed for the construction of light rail across…

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