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Light rail - Federal Way has three-pronged plan for Sound Transit

The city is adopting a game plan after Sound Transit revealed that light rail would not come to Federal Way until 2040 at the earliest.

In a brief presentation to the Federal Way City Council on July 19, city attorney Pat Richardson outlined three options the city is pursuing.

“We’re proceeding on three fronts,” she said. “We’ve made a public records request to Sound Transit to gather some documents to see, kind of what they knew at the time this went out to the people for a vote for the Sound Transit 2 package in November of 2008.”

Richardson said the city has contacted the Tukwila-based law firm of Talmadge and Fitzpatrick in order to explore “potential litigation.”

Pursuing legal restitution for the city when it comes to Sound Transit may be a difficult task, Richardson warned.

“There is a case out there that I want you to be aware of,” she said. “Sound Transit was sued several years ago for not bringing part of, I don’t remember if it was light rail or commuter rail...They went 21 miles instead of 35 miles. The (State) Supreme Court ruled that that was acceptable, even though the ballot title said they were going to do the complete 35 miles because they ran out of money.”

Sound Transit is likely aware of this case, Richardson said, and because of the precedent, any challenge by Federal Way of Sound Transit will be informed by this previous case.

“There are some challenges there,” she said.

The final front the city is pursuing is state and federal lobbying efforts, Richardson said.

Mayor Skip Priest reiterated the seriousness with which the council is taking this issue after Richardson concluded her presentation.

“Given the level of commitment that’s not being met, plus given the fact that we’re being taxed out of a significant amount of dollars from our community, we’re doing everything we can to come up with the best practices we can,” Priest said.

Councilwoman Linda Kochmar also made a brief comment after Richardson’s presentation: “We have a right to be indignant.”

BackgroundSound Transit predicts a revenue shortfall of $3.9 billion through 2023, when a light rail station near South 272nd Street and Pacific Highway South in Federal Way was scheduled for completion.

Federal Way officials estimate the city's taxpayers will have paid $240 million into the Sound Transit light rail by the time the project is finished in 2040 — regardless of whether light rail reaches the city. Since voters approved the ST2 expansion package in 2008, Sound Transit has collected approximately $12 million from Federal Way, according to data provided by the city.

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