Light rail and other transit projects to continue forward following I-776 ruling
Following today's Supreme Court decision, Sound Transit will continue forward with building a light rail project that moves 42,500 riders a day and creates 4,200 jobs.
"The taxpayers funding the Sound Move plan voted overwhelmingly against I-776. The message is clear: they want Sound Transit to continue to tackle our transportation challenges. Our mandate has not changed," said Sound Transit Board Chair and King County Executive Ron Sims.
"We have the $500 million federal Full Funding Grant Agreement for Central Link, and the Court's decision preserves the local funds we will use to match the federal funds," Sims said. "We have issued the notice of awards for the first two construction contracts, and groundbreaking is scheduled to occur within the next two weeks."
While the case has been remanded to the King County Superior Court, the legal precedents cited in today's decision make clear that Sound Transit has an ongoing responsibility to honor its contractual commitments to bondholders. Sound Transit pledged MVET revenues against bonds and is contractually committed not to reduce the MVET tax rate until the bonds are retired.
This position is supported by language in the Court's opinion: "Local governments find protection for completion of their public works in Article I, Section 23 (of the Washington Constitution) which prohibits passage of any law ‘impairing the obligations of contracts.'
The Central Link light rail project is being financed by federal funding and local revenues generated in Sound Transit's North King County and South King County subareas. Under the subarea equity policy that is at the core of Sound Transit's structure, the revenues generated in each of Sound Transit's five geographic subareas are used solely to benefit that subarea. The East King, Snohomish County and Pierce County subareas are benefiting from other investments including ST Express bus service, Sounder commuter rail and Tacoma Link light rail.
"We're going to stay focused on providing solutions for congestion-weary commuters throughout the Puget Sound region," Sims said.
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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.