Mercer Island votes to approve tentative settlement agreement with Sound Transit – KIRO Seattle

Updated: Jun 1, 2017 – 9:31 AM

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MERCER ISLAND, Wash . – The Mercer Island City Council voted to approve a tentative agreement with Sound Transit in its fight to block changes to I-90.

Starting this weekend, the Washington State Department of Transportation plans to start work to replace the express lanes in the middle of the I-90 bridge with new HOV lanes, as Sound Transit builds light rail to the Eastside. The new configuration will be in place on Monday, June 4.

Drivers traveling alone between Mercer Island and Seattle will lose access to those express lanes, and also to a well-used on-ramp at Island Crest Way.

The city believes WSDOT and Sound Transit are bound by long-standing, regional agreements that require that loss of mobility impacts for Mercer Island residents be addressed before the closure of the I-90 center roadway.  Read the agreements and documents here.  

The city said closing the express lanes and replacing them with HOV lanes would violate a 41-year-old agreement unless all Mercer Island residents, including solo drivers, have access to the new HOV lanes.

>>View a graphical depiction of the 40-year history of I-90 Access Agreements

But WSDOT says that would be illegal.

“By law, we are prohibited from taking a solo occupant driver and running them in an HOV lane on a permanent basis,” said Travis Phelps with the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Sound Transit argued the legal challenge by the City of Mercer Island could delay the opening of light rail to Bellevue and Redmond from 2023, to a later date instead.

The Mercer Island City Council responded by raising water and sewer taxes for a year and a half to pay for its legal fees.

But Thursday morning, hours from a scheduled appearance in King County court, the city tweeted that it had voted to approve tentative a settlement agreement Sound Transit.

The tweet said more details would be released later Thursday.





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