Bicycle hanging on the MAX
Portland Max, photo by qousqous

Lost (by me) in all the HB 1490 noise was Senate Bill 5540 (and companion House Bill 1677), which permits Vancouver and Clark County to impose a .9% sales tax to build high capacity transit to Portland, and to institute the same .9% sales tax authority Sound Transit has to pay for the construction of the transit. The bill amends the language to let any county with more than 400,000 residents that borders another state team up with a transit agency in that other state. Clark County has only very recently passed the 400,000 people mark, and is the only county one of two counties with that many people that borders another state.

The Senate Bill has passed 30-17, mainly along party lines, with the Democrats for and the Republicans against. The two exceptions were Tim Sheldon (D-Potlach) who voted no, and Bob Morton (R-Kettle Falls) voted yes. The Senator representing the area, Don Benton (R-Vancouver) abstained. The House companion bill has passed out of committee and should get a floor vote relatively soon. I’ll keep you posted.

14 Replies to “Clark County Transit Investment District”

  1. Though Clark could go up to .9%, is there any indication how much they’d actually want?

    1. I haven’t seen anything on the costs of building light rail into Portland, or the sort of rail line or lines they would want.

  2. Correction. Spokane County borders Idaho and has in excess of 450,000 residents.

    1. I guess I didn’t think of spokane because there’s not some big city with light rail there in Idaho. I’ve fixed it.

  3. And the other correction, C-TRAN and other PTBAs outside of the Puget Sound (because only Sound Transit can here) can already levy a dedicated sales tax of up to 9/10 of a cent for High Capacity Transit. What this bill does is to allow for subareas within the transit authorities boundaries to vote for a light rail or other HCT measure without having to ask all the voters. Could you imagine if Sound Transit had a similar measure before now? There would have been light rail in North Seattle years ago.

      1. Metro Transit is a metropolitan municipal function that King County took over when The Metropolitan Municipality of Seattle was merged with King County in the early 1990s. Its authority is derived from Chapter 35.58 of the RCWs.

        C-Tran is a public transportation benefit authority just like Pierce Transit, Spokane Transit and Community Transit. They are created under the authorityof Chapter 36.57A of the RCWs. Some parts of this chapter refer to RCW 35.58, but they are a distinct species of municipal corporations.

        Sound Transit is the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority and exists under Chapter 81.112 of the RCWs. The legislation is written such that only two or more counties in the Central Puget Sound can create a Regional Transit Authority.

        Chapter 81.104 sets for the authority for transit agencies to build, finance and operate High Capacity Transportation. Where there is an RTA, only the RTA can exercise this authority. But elsewhere in the state, cities running their own transit system (Yakima and Pullman), County PTBAs (Garfield County and one or two others) and PTBAs (Clark, Skagit, Spokane) can use the same taxing mechanisms as Sound Transit for High Capacity Transit, so long as such funding is dedicated to HCT. Please see RCW 81.104.140 for this clearly stated provision:

        The bill in question allows for subarea HCT LIDs. This would allow C-Tran to take the matter to a vote without rural interference.

    1. If it has that effect, that’s pretty powerful. If Sound Transit ever wanted to, it could ask just Seattle for money for transit in the future.

  4. The cost of getting LRT to Vancouver…

    Construction of LR from Expo to Columbia River $50 million
    Columbia River Crossing – $3.1 to 4.2 billion (It is dependent on the bridge)
    Construction of LR from Columbia River to Marshall Community Center (Park and Ride) $700 million

    Total would be 5 new stations. 1 at Janzen Beach, 4 in Vancouver.

    1. The three new Park & Rides for four stations is sort of a slap in the face to good urban planning since all of them occur with the limits of the 1888 plat (i.e. in the pre-auto age part of the city). I wonder what sort of thinking by officials from both sides of the river went into that – I’d guess that most groups thought “Well, we need to boost ridership as fast as possible.” Yuck.

      1. Excellent point.

        Can we hope for a shared bridge w/ a new I-5 structure, and therefore shared construction costs?

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