EUGENE, Ore. — The Eugene City Council will vote Wednesday on the fate of the West Eugene EmX Extension.
In short, if the council doesn’t pass the EmX extension project Wednesday, there will likely be no project.
There is a two-fold approval process going on at the local and federal levels. The city council’s support is needed to get the $75 million of federal funding that will help extend EmX into west Eugene.
“If the support’s not there then really the project is done at this point,” said Lane Transit District spokesperson Andy Vobora.
But Vobora is confident the city will throw its support behind the EmX extension into west Eugene.
“This project and bus rapid transit being developed in our community is directly in alignment with the city’s Envision Eugene,” said Vobora said.
But at least one city councilor doesn’t want to vote on the issue just yet. George Poling has been on the EmX steering committee since 2003. He says he’s not necessarily opposed to the extension, but he says he’s concerned about community members who have made it clear that they are.
“This is not just about Eugene, for the city to think it’s just about Eugene is wrong. There are people who own property on the West 11th route and business owners that don’t necessarily live inside the city of Eugene, and they won’t be able to get an opportunity to cast a vote,” Poling said.
That’s why Poling will motion Wednesday to let the district affected vote on the project. It’s a move LTD calls untraditional.
“We have a representative form of government where we have elected officials who are in the best position to make decisions for our community because they have all the information and they’ve been a part of the process for the last five years,” Vobora said.
That’s why LTD managers think city councilors will skip a public vote and vote to support the project themselves.
“We anticipate that the council will be supportive of that and allow us to move to the project development phase,” said Vobora said.
“If the majority of the council decides to move it forward, that’s what’s gonna happen and I guess that’s what you know, I’ll have to support that,” Polling said.
If approved, the project would likely start construction by 2015 or even earlier and be up and running by 2016 or 2017.