C-Tran delays action on light-rail deal

Board members vow to take vote on contract in July

By Eric Florip, Columbian Transportation & Environment Reporter

Published:

 

Previously:

The C-Tran board approved a controversial light-rail contract with TriMet as part of the Columbia River Crossing project last year, but some board members have expressed interest in canceling the deal after the CRC's demise.

What's new:

The C-Tran board decided Tuesday that it will vote in July on whether to terminate the contract.

What's next:

C-Tran's July board meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. July 8 in the Vancouver Community Library, 901 C St.

Previously:

The C-Tran board approved a controversial light-rail contract with TriMet as part of the Columbia River Crossing project last year, but some board members have expressed interest in canceling the deal after the CRC’s demise.

What’s new:

The C-Tran board decided Tuesday that it will vote in July on whether to terminate the contract.

What’s next:

C-Tran’s July board meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. July 8 in the Vancouver Community Library, 901 C St.

The C-Tran Board of -Directors has pledged to take a vote in July on whether to terminate a controversial light-rail contract the transit agency inked in 2013.

Board members decided to put an action item on next month’s meeting agenda after broaching the subject somewhat delicately Tuesday.

The group received a confidential memo from -C-Tran attorney Tom Wolfendale this past week outlining possible actions on the contract, which spelled out how C-Tran and TriMet would operate light rail as part of the Columbia River Crossing.

Wolfendale cautioned the board against going into too much detail publicly, given the legal ramifications of terminating a binding contract between two agencies. But during that discussion, Wolfendale seemed to indicate that C-Tran might have a legal basis for terminating the agreement. He said after the meeting that the contract’s “duration” — he didn’t elaborate — could be part of a possible basis for termination.

In limbo

The contract has been in limbo since the CRC died earlier this year after not receiving funding or political support from either Washington or Oregon. The agreement only takes effect if the proposed Interstate 5 Bridge replacement and light rail extension is built. But it has no expiration date, leaving it dormant, but not dead, with no CRC.

Some C-Tran board members have called for the termination of the contract to remove any uncertainty about its status. If the agency can end the agreement expeditiously, “we should do so,” Clark County Commissioner -David Madore said Tuesday.

Several residents urged the board to cancel the agreement early in the meeting.

Opponents have objected to certain parts of the deal, including one clause that allows C-Tran’s eminent domain authority to be used for TriMet to acquire property for light rail. It also states that a breach of contract by either party could result in a $5 million penalty.

“Since there is no CRC project funded, it would seem prudent to do what you can to remove that contract so that it no longer exists,” state Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, told the board.

The contract was originally approved by a narrow 5-4 vote.

Although some board members have changed since then, another 5-4 vote Tuesday delayed action on the contract.

And putting it on next month’s agenda doesn’t guarantee that the board will actually terminate the contract.

The board also plans to hold a closed-door executive session on the subject as part of next month’s meeting, which is July 8.

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