Freeman/ETA Appeal of Kittitas judge's rejection of their suit to block East Link
I submitted this to the Bellevue Reporter in response to their May 11 article about I-90 light-rail appeal.
The ETA has a far better basis to appeal the Kittitas judge’s decision not to block East Link than their rather esoteric constitutional arguments. The judge’s rationale for allowing East Link to go forward is on page 10 of his March 5 Memorandum Decision. “The court respectfully declines to review the administrative decisions of the State (WSDOT) regarding its determination the center lanes of I-90 in question will not be needed for highway purposes upon the completion of the R8A project and fulfillment of the Umbrella Agreement.” The R8A project adds a 4th lane the outer bridges for bus and HOV traffic.
He based this decision on the following statement from page 9 of the MD. “The State’s determination that the center roadway of I-90 will not be presently needed for highway purposes after the completion of the conditions set forth in the Umbrella Agreement (i.e. completion of R8A) is based upon years of study and analysis set forth in the record including the I-90 two way transit and HOV operations FEIS and ROD……….”.
A September 2004 Federal Highway Administration document, FHWA-WA-EIS-3-01-F, “I-90 Two-Way Transit and HOV Operation Project, Record of Decision”, examined this issue in detail. Its version of the R8A configuration added the 4th lane to the outer bridges for both bus and HOV traffic. However, as described on page 9, it retained the two existing reversible bus/HOV lanes on the center roadway. The center bus/HOV lanes were retained because their evaluation of configuration R2B, page 3, with two-way bus and HOV lanes on the center roadway concluded, page 4, single lanes could not accommodate both bus and HOV traffic.
Thus, contrary to what Sound Transit and DOT told the judge, their own study refutes the claim R8A’s installation of a Bus/HOV lane on the outer bridge would eliminate the need to use the center section for highway use. This seems to be a relatively easy basis to win an appeal.