In a 7-2 ruling, the Washington State Supreme Court sided with the state Department of Transportation in a dispute over whether or not the state’s Constitution and the department’s statute allowed highway lanes on the Interstate 90 floating bridge to be leased to Sound Transit to expand its light rail system.
Bellevue businessman Kemper Freeman and others argued the state Constitution prohibits the use of gas tax dollars in the state’s motor vehicle fund for projects other than highways. He also argued that DOT did not have the authority under its leasing statute to allow this activity.
The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that, because Sound Transit had agreed to pay an amount equal to the State’s contribution to build the lanes and the value of the 40-year lease, the agreement did not violate the state Constitution nor the leasing statute. As a consequence, the light rail project can move forward.
Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson praised the decision and the work of his attorneys to defend this project.
“The Department of Transportation and Sound Transit developed an effective and fair partnership to upgrade and address traffic issues on the I-90 floating bridge,” Ferguson said. “This agreement respects the law and the Constitution while addressing a critical need.”