Mercer Island Transit Interchange

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The Mercer Island Transit Interchange is the integration of bus transit service from the Eastside with East Link light rail. When East Link opens for service in 2023, some bus routes from the Eastside to Seattle will terminate at Mercer Island Station, where passengers will transfer to/from light rail.

Learn more by reading the articles below, as well as the FAQs and studying the Document Library; use the tools below to Ask a Question or Post a Comment. [Note: FAQ's not updated after Oct 2020]

The Mercer Island Transit Interchange is the integration of bus transit service from the Eastside with East Link light rail. When East Link opens for service in 2023, some bus routes from the Eastside to Seattle will terminate at Mercer Island Station, where passengers will transfer to/from light rail.

Learn more by reading the articles below, as well as the FAQs and studying the Document Library; use the tools below to Ask a Question or Post a Comment. [Note: FAQ's not updated after Oct 2020]

  • An Update on Sound Transit's Appeal to Hearing Examiner

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    July 29, 2021 - On August 20th, the Court will hear motions from the City and Sound Transit as part of Sound Transit’s litigation to appeal the Mercer Island Transit Interchange permits. The City is asking the Court to dismiss the issues involving City rights-of-way and the 2017 Settlement Agreement disputes from Sound Transit’s Land Use Petition Act appeal. These issues are already properly before the Court in the litigation filed by the City in October of 2020. Sound Transit’s motion asks the Court to bypass the October 2020 case, ignore the 2017 Settlement Agreement between the City and Sound Transit, and require permits be issued that violate the terms of the 2017 Settlement Agreement.

    Meanwhile, in the 2020 case the City is pursuing to enforce the plain terms of the Settlement Agreement, the parties are proceeding in discovery. The City has been working to address Sound Transit’s failure to properly produce documents in response to the City’s requests. Although the City has begun depositions, Sound Transit’s actions have delayed this work. In light of delays related to Sound Transit’s production of documents, the Court has agreed that the trial date should be moved to Spring of 2022. The City anticipates seeking further relief from the Court related to these issues as appropriate. The City continues its work to prepare its case for trial.

  • An Update on Sound Transit's Appeal to Hearing Examiner

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    June 10, 2021 – Sound Transit filed litigation in King County Superior Court on June 9, 2021, appealing the Hearing Examiner’s decision regarding permits for the Mercer Island Transit Interchange. Sound Transit’s claims focus on decisions the Hearing Examiner made to defer to the courts regarding interpretation of the 2017 Settlement Agreement between Sound Transit and the City. In this new case, Sound Transit is asking the Court to order permits be issued for a new bus layover on the north side of North Mercer Way before the litigation regarding the 2017 Settlement Agreement is resolved. The City will vigorously defend its position in this new appeal as well as continue forward with its October 2020 case filed to have the terms of the 2017 Settlement Agreement enforced.

  • Hearing Examiner Issues Revised Order

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    May 21, 2021 - After reviewing the Hearing Examiner’s May 3rd decision, the City filed a motion asking the Hearing Examiner to revise portions of the decision. Sound Transit filed a response opposing the motion. The Examiner granted that motion almost entirely on May 20, 2021, issuing an Order Revising a Decision After Reconsideration.

    The changes correct the factual record regarding the City’s actions and positions taken during processing of the Mercer Island Transit Interchange permitting review. They do not alter the substantive outcome of the appeal.

  • An Update on the City's Lawsuit Against Sound Transit

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    May 19, 2021 - The legal process for the City’s lawsuit against Sound Transit that was filed in October 2020 continues to move forward. Previous letters from the City related to discussions with Sound Transit and also background on the lawsuit are available here on Let's Talk.

    For more than a year ahead of the City filing suit and despite the City's repeated warnings, Sound Transit pushed forward with plans for the Mercer Island Transit Interchange that violated the terms of the 2017 Settlement Agreement between the City and Sound Transit. The limitations in the Settlement Agreement that were agreed to by both the City and Sound Transit were designed to address significant concerns over, among other things, the safe movement of pedestrians and bicycles along and across North Mercer Way while also mitigating adverse impacts to traffic on that critical corridor.

    Sound Transit's insistence on violating the Settlement Agreement left the City with no other choice but to file suit to ask for enforcement of the 2017 Settlement Agreement. The City continues to cooperate fully with the process and is confident in the merit of its position.

    The City will continue to keep the community updated as the lawsuit moves forward.

  • An Update on Sound Transit Appeal to Hearing Examiner

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    May 3, 2021 - The Hearing Examiner issued a decision today in Sound Transit’s appeal of permit conditions that the City imposed on construction of the Mercer Island Transit Interchange (MITI). At the moment, the City continues to evaluate the decision in detail, however, the following is a summary of the three main issues appealed.

    “Decision of New Curb Cut on North Mercer Way”

    The Hearing Examiner ruled that the new curb cut on the north side of North Mercer Way that Sound Transit testified will be used for a bus layover should be left for the Superior Court to decide because it is part of the 2017 Settlement Agreement. He repealed the City condition denying the curb cut based on City code provisions but held that it was “subject to resolution of the implications of the Settlement Agreement by and in another forum.” This leaves the bus layover dispute for resolution in the City’s Superior Court case filed in October 2020 to enforce the Settlement Agreement terms.

    “Decision on Conveyance of Property by Sound Transit to the City”

    In terms of the conveyance of property by Sound Transit to the City as rights-of-way, the Hearing Examiner held that this could wait until construction of the MITI is complete. The Hearing Examiner acknowledged that the City had been consistent in its interpretation of the City’s code since it began review of the MITI, but he disagreed with the City’s code interpretation that the stormwater vault used to collect and treat stormwater from public rights- of- way is a public facility requiring either the conveyance of property to the City or a conditional use permit if constructed in residential zones.

    The Hearing Examiner gave Sound Transit the option of either conveying the property to the City before construction or applying for a Site Development Permit for all MITI improvements that are not located in existing rights-of-way. This would include a portion of the roundabout, sidewalk, retaining walls, and the stormwater vault. Given Sound Transit’s testimony about the difficulty and restrictions on it to convey property, the Hearing Examiner left Sound Transit with four options on what to do with any property left over that is not being used for MITI improvements. The Hearing Examiner also acknowledged that Sound Transit did not disclose any of these claimed restrictions on conveyance to the City prior to the hearing.

    “Decision on Operations and Maintenance Agreement”

    In regard to an operations and maintenance agreement (O&M agreement), the 2017 Settlement Agreement provides that Sound Transit is solely responsible for all costs to operate the MITI improvements (stormwater vault, landscaping, irrigation, etc.). The City conditioned the permit on execution of an O&M agreement whereby Sound Transit would reimburse the City for all these operation costs. The Hearing Examiner ruled that the dispute regarding the necessity of an O&M agreement would also be resolved in Superior Court.

    For more information on the Mercer Island Transit Interchange project, including a copy of the Hearing Examiner Decision, please visit Let’s Talk.

  • Permit Submittal Update

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    Apr 30, 2021 - The Mercer Island Transit Interchange is the integration of bus transit service with the Mercer Island East Link Light Rail station that will open for service in 2023.

    As a part of the process of bringing East Link Light Rail to Mercer Island, in November 2020 Sound Transit submitted plans to modify City streets to service the Mercer Island Transit Interchange. Prior to the submittal of these plans for permits to move forward with construction, Sound Transit and the City exchanged drafts and comments at the 30%, 60%, and 90% design mileposts.

    The permit submittal plans for the transit center and surrounding interchanges are available in the Let's Talk Document Library here (104 pages, 135Mb)

  • An Update on the City’s Lawsuit Against Sound Transit

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    Mar 10, 2021 - In October 2020, the City of Mercer Island filed a lawsuit against Sound Transit regarding the Mercer Island Transit Interchange. As the City Council wrote in October, for more than a year Sound Transit presented plans that were inconsistent with the terms of the 2017 Settlement Agreement that was designed to facilitate the safe movement of pedestrians and bicycles, while minimizing traffic on the north side of North Mercer Way.

    This left the City with no alternative but to file suit against Sound Transit to ensure that they honor their side of the bargain. The lawsuit is moving through the legal process and the City is encouraged by recent preliminary Court rulings in support of the City’s position.

    Specifically, Sound Transit made a procedural motion to dismiss the City’s lawsuit and the Court ruled against Sound Transit’s motion. Sound Transit argued that the lawsuit was simply about stopping the progress of East Link light rail. That is inaccurate. The City has repeatedly expressed support and enthusiasm about the arrival of light rail. The City desires only to have the commitments under the Settlement Agreement upheld and is pleased that Sound Transit’s motion was denied.

    Additionally, another King County Superior Court judge dismissed Sound Transit’s premature appeal under the Land Use Petition Act (LUPA) related to the City’s conditions on Sound Transit’s right-of-way construction permits on North Mercer Way. Sound Transit must now raise their objections before Mercer Island’s hearing examiner in accordance with the Mercer Island City Code and State law. The proceeding before the hearing examiner is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, March 16. The City is encouraged that Sound Transit will not be able to short circuit the appropriate, and well-established, administrative process for challenging permit decisions, which is applicable to and required by all permit applicants equally.

    The City will proceed as directed by the City Council, which stated clearly in its October 2020 letter to the community:

    “The City Council cannot let Sound Transit unilaterally rewrite the Settlement Agreement when the City has performed all of its obligations. At the end of the day, a deal is a deal. Sound Transit is not honoring their side of the bargain, and we are confident that the courts will agree.”

    The City will continue to keep the community updated on progress and residents can find the latest information and documents on this Let's Talk webpage.

  • Sound Transit Appeal to Hearing Examiner Explained

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    Within the past few days, the City has received questions from Mercer Island citizens regarding the Mercer Island Transit Interchange and the upcoming public hearing involving the City and Sound Transit.

    Sound Transit has appealed the City’s permit decision to the Hearing Examiner. This is not a hearing to discuss the full transit interchange project as a whole. The only issues for the hearing are denial of a permit for a proposed curb cut on the north side of North Mercer Way, conveyance of right-of-way to the City, an operations and maintenance agreement, traffic control plans, and timing of final asphalt restoration.

    A public notice for the hearing was mailed on February 5 to properties within 400 feet, posted at the site, and published in the weekly Community Planning & Development Bulletin produced by the City.

    The full public hearing notice is available here and includes information on how you can participate if you’d like to discuss the specific issues being appealed.

  • Third Letter to the Community from Your City Council

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    (October 26, 2020) City Files Lawsuit to Enforce Terms of 2017 Settlement Agreement with Sound Transit

    Dear Mercer Island Community,

    We write to provide an update on the City of Mercer Island’s discussions with Sound Transit related to the Mercer Island Transit Interchange and the 2017 Settlement Agreement. As you may recall, this was previously discussed in community letters in May and August.

    For more than a year, the City has warned Sound Transit that their plans are inconsistent with the terms of the Settlement Agreement. Last Friday, Sound Transit submitted a Right-of-Way Use Permit Application that violated the terms of the Settlement Agreement. As a result, the City Council voted to authorize the City Manager to file a lawsuit against Sound Transit.

    The City fought hard in 2017 to achieve an agreement that facilitated the safe movement of pedestrians and bicycles and minimized traffic on the north side of North Mercer Way. This was to ensure that Mercer Island commuters accessing Westbound I-90 from Island Crest Way would not be negatively impacted by Sound Transit buses. The proposal from Sound Transit deviates radically from the agreed configuration and ignores the core tenets of the Settlement Agreement that was approved by a previous City Council, forcing us to make today’s decision.

    The City Council wants to be very clear: this is not about stopping the progress of the East Link light rail. 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. Our good faith efforts to uphold the Settlement Agreement, not delay the permit process, and protect Mercer Island were met with Sound Transit’s obfuscation and efforts to change the rules.

    Through this legal action, the City demands that Sound Transit reconsider their current re-design of North Mercer Way because of the drastic adverse impacts it will have for the Mercer Island community. This deviation from the agreed configuration will have broad impacts on the lives of our community members, including commuting to our jobs, taking families to activities and medical appointments, and generally traveling on and off Mercer Island.

    The City Council cannot let Sound Transit unilaterally rewrite the Settlement Agreement when the City has performed all of its obligations. At the end of the day, a deal is a deal. Sound Transit is not honoring their side of the bargain, and we are confident that the courts will agree.

    Residents can find the latest information and documents on the City’s Let’s Talk Website and we urge you to share this letter and the online fact sheets and information with your family, neighbors and friends.

    -Mercer Island City Council

    Mayor Benson Wong
    Deputy Mayor Wendy Weiker
    Councilmember Lisa Anderl
    Councilmember Jake Jacobson
    Councilmember Salim Nice
    Councilmember Craig Reynolds
    Councilmember David Rosenbaum

  • City Continues Discussions with Sound Transit on 90% Design Plans

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    October 2, 2020 - Today, the City sent a letter to Sound Transit conveying the ongoing concerns it has that Sound Transit is not honoring the deal it struck with the City three years ago. We continue to provide detailed and expansive technical comments on design plans submitted by Sound Transit and are administering the permit review process consistent with the 2017 Settlement Agreement.

    As set forth in detail in the letter, the City is continuing its timely review of Sound Transit’s permits and plans in compliance with the Settlement Agreement and is in no way delaying progress of the project. Likewise, the City also expects compliance with the Settlement Agreement from Sound Transit, and has asked that Sound Transit participate in mediation to resolve ongoing safety and traffic concerns related to the bus-rail interchange at North Mercer Way as presented in the 90% Design Plans. The goal of any mediation would be to reach agreement with Sound Transit that acknowledges the bargain struck by both sides. We remain hopeful that Sound Transit and King County Metro will join us at the table in the near future.

    We urge all citizens to read the latest letter from the City and find more information on the Mercer Island Transit Interchange project here on the Let's Talk website.