Sound Transit files appeal regarding city permits

Open record public hearing set for March 16.

Following a Sound Transit appeal regarding permits within the Mercer Island Transit Integration Project, the city’s hearing examiner will conduct an open record public virtual hearing at 9 a.m. March 16. The hearing may continue March 17, 19 and 24 if more time is required to delve into the matter.

Sound Transit wrote in a Jan. 5 letter to the city clerk — and linked on the city’s website — that the appeal focuses on multiple conditions of city permit approvals for both a right-of-way use and “Building, Engineering, ‘Landscaping Trees, Irrigation,’ Street Engineering, Tree, and fire Protection permits.”

In the letter, the agency said one of the conditions of the appeal is the “City’s evolving interpretation of a contract that is the subject of litigation in superior court.”

A previous Reporter article noted that on Oct. 26, 2020, the Mercer Island City Council voted 7-0 to file a lawsuit against Sound Transit regarding inconsistencies in the agency’s plans with the terms of the 2017 Settlement Agreement related to the Mercer Island Transit Interchange.

In an Oct. 26 letter to the community posted on the city’s website, council made it clear that the city’s litigation isn’t meant to halt Sound Transit’s light rail progress: “We remain excited about the arrival of light rail and the opportunities it will offer to the Mercer Island Community, our local businesses, and the region.”

The Reporter reached out to the city for a comment on the appeals, but the city chose not to submit one.

Sound Transit wrote in the Jan. 5 letter that the transit integration project, which includes the planned roundabout at 77th Avenue Southeast and North Mercer Way, “is a critical element of East Link, is essential for this bus/rail integration to occur, and is the subject of this appeal.”

The project calls for Eastside buses to drop off passengers and lay over on the north side of North Mercer Way before rolling around the roundabout to retrieve passengers on the south side of North Mercer Way and trek back to the Eastside.

Sound Transit added that the Mercer Island light rail station in the Interstate 90 right-of-way is 95% complete and not part of the appeal. East Link is scheduled to be up and running in 2023 and will feature 10 stations covering 14 miles. Riders will be able to travel from Mercer Island to the University of Washington in 20 minutes.

The hearing examiner held a remote pre-hearing conference on Jan. 29 with representatives of the city and Sound Transit and their attorneys. Residents can attend the hearing, which will include testimony from multiple witnesses, remotely by clicking https://tinyurl.com/3v63xe4a or by phone by calling 253-215-8782 and entering Meeting ID 814 3867 8291 and Passcode 222181 when prompted.

For more information, visit the city’s Let’s Talk Website at https://letstalk.mercergov.org/Transit-Interchange.

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