Boldt's soothing letter on light rail

Our new transportation and environment reporter, the stellar Eric Florip (on Twitter at @col_enviro), hit up Tuesday’s C-Tran meeting, where he found out that the letter writing over the light rail vote continues. Here’s his dispatch:

Clark County Commissioner Marc Boldt has added his pen to the recent spate of letters over C-Tran’s two upcoming sales tax votes.

But the C-Tran Board of Directors chair struck a slightly less terse tone than an earlier exchange between Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt.

First, a bit of background: C-Tran plans to ask Clark County voters for two sales tax increases as it copes with an ailing budget and explores new endeavors. The first vote, this November, would simply keep existing bus service intact. The second vote, likely in 2012, would fund new light rail and bus rapid transit service.

The scope of the second vote remains unclear. Herrera has urged C-Tran leaders to put the issue to voters in the transit agency’s entire service area, and soon. But a smaller subdistrict vote has also been proposed.

Leavitt, responding to the first of two letters from Herrera, called her position “disappointing and perplexing,” while thanking her for supporting the related Columbia River Crossing Project.

Boldt weighed in with a letter of his own this week. His take: Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.

“…we do have a very important measure this November that will maintain the service of both our buses and C-VAN to thousands of our shared constituents,” Boldt wrote. “Without the additional 0.2 percent sales tax (2 pennies on a 10 dollar purchase), there will be major service cuts…”

Boldt reiterated that this November’s vote was separated from the later light rail vote to give voters as clear a choice as possible. Many of the details surrounding the light rail and bus rapid transit proposals remain to be worked out, he wrote. No matter how the proposal looks, Boldt stressed that C-Tran leaders aren’t trying to leave anybody out of the loop.

“First, let me state clearly that before light rail comes across the bridge into our community, there will be a thorough discussion, and a vote on the operations and maintenance of the (light rail transit) project as soon as possible in 2012,” Boldt wrote.

Boldt noted some C-Tran board members have voiced support for a district-wide vote. But the group needs more information before arriving at a final decision, he said.

That decision will likely come before the end of this year. Stay tuned…

— Eric Florip

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