A King County judge has ruled that Initiative 101 wasn't legal. The initiative that sought to block the Highway 99 tunnel won't go before voters.
An initiative that sought to prevent the state from using city streets or property to build the Highway 99 tunnel won’t go to Seattle voters.
King County Superior Court Judge Joan DuBuque on Monday sided with Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and the state in ruling that Initiative 101 wasn’t legal because it attempted to take away the state’s ability to build a state highway.
DuBuque said the power to negotiate with the state over a highway belongs to the Seattle mayor and City Council and legally could not be subject to a citywide vote.
Voters still will get a chance to weigh in on the $2 billion tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
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Seattle Referendum 1, on the Aug. 16 ballot, asks voters to approve or reject how the City Council plans to give notice to the state to proceed with tunnel construction. Groundbreaking is scheduled for fall.
Initiative 101 was sponsored by Seattle Citizens Against the Tunnel, a group that favors rebuilding an elevated highway instead of the tunnel.
Anti-tunnel activist Elizabeth Campbell, who led the initiative petition drive to qualify the measure for the November ballot, confronted state transportation officials in the courtroom after the ruling and accused them of “killing democracy” by challenging the initiative before the public could vote.
But state transportation officials said their goal was to follow the will of the governor and Legislature, which approved funding for the tunnel.
“Our number-one concern is managing the schedule and costs,” said Ron Paananen, project administrator for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project.
Campbell said she plans to file an emergency appeal to the state Supreme Court because of the August deadline to place a measure on the general-election ballot.
The judge’s ruling came after Holmes’ challenge to Initiative 101. He sued to keep it off the ballot, saying a city initiative couldn’t block a state project.
The state Department of Transportation (DOT) joined the lawsuit, arguing that agreements between the city and state to go forward with the tunnel had already been signed — in 2009 and again in February.
Bryce Brown, an assistant state attorney general representing the DOT, told the court an initiative cannot impair a contract already negotiated and executed.
Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or firstname.lastname@example.org