A laundry list of transit opponents have come together in a last-ditch attempt to stop East Link from being built on I-90. We’ve recently gotten word that a suit has been filed against the State over the use of the I-90 express lanes.
The petitioner list is almost entirely expected: Kemper Freeman, Jim Horn, Steve Stivala, Ken Collins, Michael Dunmire, Sarah Rinlaub, Al Deatley, Jim Coles, Brian Boehm, and the Eastside Transportation Association. Some of these people are also involved in the conservative Washington Policy Center, another transit opponent.
Their argument is simple: They claim that if the I-90 express lanes were paid for with gas tax money, they can’t be used for transit.
Unfortunately for them, there’s plenty of precedent for state highway right of way being used for transit (consider Link as it follows 599, 5, and 518). The independent analysis we discussed yesterday demonstrates that the discussion has moved far past opponents’ claims – I-90 was built for transit, and if the state used gas tax funds to pay for a transit facility, the analysis framed that as more likely their problem than Sound Transit’s. Some money may change hands, but the process for doing this is already in place.
What concerns me about this suit is that it could be used by certain state legislators as a reason to delay. “Let’s see how the lawsuit plays out” seems like an easy way to avoid doing their jobs. Fortunately, the valuation is on track, and I don’t think any particular legislators want to be called out for blocking progress when there’s a hard deadline in state law for the agreement being complete.
We’ll update soon with the text of the suit.