Seattle transit authority sues Microsoft over land dispute

SEATTLE — (AP) — The Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority filed a lawsuit against Microsoft Corp. for land and access to add light rail service.

The authority, known as Sound Transit, claims the software giant created risks of missing the agency's August 2024 goal to complete the project from Overlake to downtown Redmond, the Seattle Times reported Tuesday.

The institutions differ by more than $17.5 million over how much Sound Transit should pay to buy land next to Highway 520, plus easement rights for worker access and equipment storage.

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Surface tracks and retaining walls are planned along eastbound lanes in an area where Microsoft’s north campus rises near the state highway.

Construction would not destroy buildings, but work crews would occupy a roadway between a parking garage and offices, while creating noise, vibration and potential utility impacts.

Stephen VanDerhoef, an attorney for Microsoft, wrote that Sound Transit’s original access documents were too vague for the company to calculate land values last year.

Construction manager Thomas Finlayson wrote in February that the goal to carry passengers by August 2024 was slipping away and required preliminary access from Microsoft.

To construct the $1.5 billion, two-station Redmond project, mainly on state highway land, Sound Transit would need to acquire 93 parcels through eminent domain, costing an estimated $199 million including overhead.

Sound Transit offered Microsoft $10 million in May 2019, while the company’s appraiser valued the taking at nearly $27.6 million.

A jury trial was scheduled for May 11 to settle the price dispute.