The Sound Transit East Link Project is a section of Sound Transit’s massive effort to extend light rail around the Seattle metropolitan area. The East Link portion will expand light rail from Downtown Seattle to Mercer Island and Bellevue along Interstate 90 (I-90) and then through Bellevue to Overlake and Redmond areas.
The preferred alternative of the project will extend Sound Transit’s current light rail system by 18 miles and will include 12 stations, four park-and-ride lots and various supporting facilities. The project is split up into five segments:
Segment A: Interstate 90
Connects downtown Seattle to Mercer Island and South Bellevue via I-90
Segment B: South Bellevue
Connects I-90 to downtown Bellevue along Bellevue Wat SE and 112th Avenue SE
Segment C: Downtown Bellevue
Includes a tunnel through downtown Bellevue and an elevated 1-405 crossing at NE 6th Street
Segment D: Bel-Red/Overlake
From the 1-405 crossing to the Overlake Transit Center along the Bel-Red Corridor
Segment E: Downtown Redmond Extension
Travel from Overlake Transit Center to Downtown Redmond via the former BNSF Railway corridor (Note: this segment will be built in the future when funding becomes available)
All segments of the East Link Project are funded except for Segment E: Downtown Redmond Extension; funding for this segment is not identified at this time.
At this time, the Sound Transit team of engineers is working on the final design for the project. 60% design is expected in 2013. Typically, after 60% design is reached, right-of-way authorization is approved by the Sound Transit Board. Sound Transit and city officials are also holding public meetings with citizens affected by the project to discuss cost saving ideas during this phase of the project.
Once right-of-way authorization is approved, property necessary for the project will be identified and appraised. After the appraisals, offers will be sent to property owners and properties will be purchased. This process could begin as early as this year (2013) and is expected to continue into 2015. Construction is projected to begin in 2015.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PROPERTY OWNERS?
The East Link Project will require the acquisition of private property. The eminent domain laws of Washington direct the government to pay land owners just compensation. Unfortunately, the determination of just compensation often involves a wide range of issues that appraisers may neglect to consider, such as the highest and best use of property and damages to the remainder parcel.
They key issue in appraising property in an eminent domain case is knowing how to evaluate and determine severance damages, which is a valuation concept unique to these cases. If the appraiser hired by the government doesn’t understand the full complement of issues and severance damages that should be included in the valuation, then the property owner will not receive just compensation. Learn more about hiring an appraiser for eminent domain.
Property owners affected by this project should have an eminent domain attorney review their offer and appraisal before settling in this matter. Also, Washington eminent domain law states, if a trial is held to determine just compensation, the court may award attorney recovery fees if the judgment awarded at the trial exceeds the highest written offer by at least 10 percent (WA 8.25.070)