Nineteen Clark County residents have filed a lawsuit seeking to stop C-Tran from receiving federal funding for planning the Fourth Plain Bus Rapid Transit Project without first obtaining voter approval for the agency’s overall high-capacity transit system plan.
The plaintiffs, who include many Republican political activists, ask that the Clark County Superior Court bar the agency from spending sales and use tax revenues on the planning or funding of the project.
The $53 million bus rapid transit line, scheduled to open as early 2016, would extend between the Westfield Vancouver mall and downtown, primarily along the city’s Fourth Plain corridor. The enhanced bus system employs larger vehicles, specialized traffic signals, raised boarding platforms and other features. Construction is slated to begin next year.
While a federal grant will finance most of the project, the C-Tran Board of Directors also authorized about $6.7 million in local funding for the project in July.
C-Tran has said the new system on the Fourth Plain Corridor will eventually result in a net savings to the agency’s bottom line.
The court complaint claims that the BRT is not part of high-capacity transit as defined by the High Capacity Transit Act and is inconsistent with C-Tran’s comprehensive plan and 20-year transit development plan.
The plaintiffs are John Ley, William Cismar, Dan Coursey, Mark Engleman, Carl Gibson, Tom Hann, John Jenkins, Sharon Long, Larry Martin, Greg Noelck, Harvey Olson, Larry Patella, Brian Peck, Ralph Peabody, Fran Rutherford, Gary Schaeffer, Tom Sharples, Charles Stemper and Don Yingling. Ley and Cismar are past Republican candidates for state representative in the 18th and 49th legislative districts, respectively.
Other notables include Engleman, a member of Vancouver Vitality — a political committee formed to support conservative candidates on city council — and Hann, a member of the local Tea Party.
C-Tran spokesman Jim Quintana said agency officials have not had time to review the complaint and would not have a response until next week. Damien Hall and Jacob Zahniser of Portland’s Ball Janik law firm, attorneys representing the plaintiffs, could not be reached Friday for comment.