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Ruling Friday Will Determine Timeline for Tunnel Referendum Lawsuit

By Erica C. Barnett April 13, 2011

A King County Superior Court judge is expected to rule Friday on the time line for hearing a lawsuit by city attorney Pete Holmes aimed at averting a vote on the deep-bore tunnel referendum. The referendum would overturn three agreements between the city and state related to the tunnel.

Tunnel opponents say the referendum would stop the tunnel from moving forward; tunnel proponents say its only effect would be to take away the city's only bargaining chip with the state and potentially expose the city to the risk of paying for cost overruns.

If Judge Laura Middaugh announces that she will be able to rule on the lawsuit before May 24, the referendum could go on the August ballot. (That is, of course, only if Middaugh rules in the referendum sponsors' favor). If she decides she needs longer than that to rule, the next regular election isn't until November.

Holmes has argued that the three agreements are merely "administrative" decisions to uphold a previously adopted policy of supporting the tunnel (as opposed to "legislative" decisions) and thus aren't subject to referendum.
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