C-Tran board expected to finalize light rail vote today

Measure on today's meeting agenda

By Eric Florip, Columbian Transportation & Environment Reporter and Craig Brown, Columbian Managing Editor



C-Tran’s board of directors is expected today to formally call for a public vote in November on raising the sales tax, in part to fund operation of the MAX light rail system over the new Columbia River Crossing to Clark College.

Last month, the transit agency’s board unanimously directed C-Tran staff to craft a measure, put to its entire service district, asking for a 0.1-percentage-point bump in the local sales tax rate. In addition to sustaining light rail, the resulting $4.5 million to $5.5 million in revenue would also go toward a bus rapid transit line proposed for Vancouver’s Fourth Plain corridor. The board’s move mostly echoed an endorsement made by the Vancouver City Council the night before.

The official call to put the tax to a vote had to wait until a state-mandated expert review panel finished its work evaluating the agency’s high-capacity transit plans. The review panel recently released a report that found that the plans were viable.

A sales-tax hike would cover only the annual cost to operate light rail in Clark County, about $2.5 million, once the system is up and running. Officials are banking on federal money to actually build the light rail extension, planned as part of the $3.5 billion Columbia River Crossing project.

Tonight’s meeting, which is open to the public, begins at 5:30 p.m. in Room 680 at the Clark County Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St.