Kemper Loses Lawsuit to Stop I-90 Light Rail

By Josh Feit March 9, 2012

The Kittitas County Superior Court has dismissed a lawsuit by Bellevue megadeveloper Kemper Freeman seeking to halt light-rail construction across I-90. Freeman, a longtime light rail opponent, spent more than $1 million on Tim Eyman's failed Initiative 1125, which would have, among other things, prohibited light rail on I-90, last year.

Freeman, along with his fellow plaintiffs, former state Sen. Jim Horn and Sara Rindlaub, argued that the state constitution prohibits highways funded, like I-90, with state gas tax money, from being converted to "non-highway uses." State gas taxes can only fund highway projects.

However, the court ruled that Sound Transit had the right to lease the center lanes of I-90 for its light rail project because it is providing adequate compensation for the use of the lanes. And it cites an explicit federal condition in documents approving the bridge's construction that "public transportation shall permanently have first priority in the use of the center lanes.”

"The State and Sound Transit agree that motor vehicle funds may not be expended on light rail so Sound Transit has agreed to reimburse the State for any motor vehicle funds expended for the construction of the center lanes of I-90," the ruling says. "As long as the necessary reimbursement and consideration is provided, highways paid for with motor vehicle funds may be tranferred for ni-highway purposes."
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