Community group files suit to stop East Link light-rail

A community organization has filed suit in federal court to stop construction of East Link light-rail on 112th Avenue and Bellevue Way due to neighborhood impacts.

Building a Better Bellevue filed the suit against the Federal Transit Authority and Sound Transit, alleging that the rail route will impact the historic Winters House, cause damage to the Mercer Slough and create temporary and permanent traffic problems. Furthermore, Sound Transit did not consider alternatives to the chosen route, such as running the rail along Interstate 405, or using a deep bore tunnel underneath the chosen streets.

The suit was filed under the National Environmental Protection Act, which created the Environmental Impact Statement program. This program governed how Sound Transit considered alternatives for the project.

The suit comes just days after Building a Better Bellevue released a report asserting that a tunnel under 112th and Bellevue Way would save millions on the route. Sound Transit dismissed the report this week, saying its claims that the route could save hundreds of millions on consultant and contingency costs were without basis. Only a few hours after Sound Transit released its response to the report, Building a Better Bellevue announced the suit.

Sound Transit representatives declined to comment on the details of the suit. But, Geoff Patrick, spokesman for Sound Transit, said the organization's expansive public involvement process over more than five years analyzed countless alternatives to find the best route.

"We are confident our process was compliant with the federal process and went above and beyond," Patrick said.

Several Bellevue councilmembers did not return phone calls requesting comment on the suit.

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