SEATTLE– In a 7-2 ruling today, the Washington State Supreme Court today 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 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. “As reflected in the court ruling, this agreement respects the law and the Constitution while addressing a critical need.”
Senior Assistant Attorney General Bryce Brown, Chief of the Transportation and Public Construction Division, argued the case for the Attorney General’s Office.
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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Contacts: Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications
Alison Dempsey-Hall, Dep. Communications Director