West Eugene EmX: LTD says route a go but foes seek abrupt halt

West Eugene EmX: LTD says route a go but foes seek abrupt halt
Money to extend the EmX rapid transit into West Eugene is in the president's budget, but foes still hope legal challenges or Congress will halt the project.

EUGENE, Ore. - West Eugene EmX is one of the 26 rail, bus rapid transit and streetcar projects in President Obama's proposed budget.

Lane Transit District said funding hinges on what Congress does next.

Meanwhile, a grant agreement between LTD and the Federal Transit Administration is expected soon.

"Once we have that grant agreement in place and the project is underway, we expect that the $50 million is quite likely to be approved and actually authorized," said Lisa Van Winkle with LTD.

Another $24 million was committed to the project by the feds. That money is pending the same grant agreement.  

For now, engineering work continues on the $95 million job.

"If things click along smoothly, we are hoping to begin construction in the second half of this year," Van Winkle said.

The group Our Money Our Transit, which opposes the project, said federal funding is far from a done deal.

"That's just a line item in the budget," said Bob Macherione. "It still has to pass legal challenges."

His group is trying to block the project with a suit in federal court. Macherione feels it will prevail.

Macherione also claims LTD is going to have more EmX buses stop in mixed traffic, not in dedicated stop lanes.

"That's nowhere near the plan that they sold the public or they initially sold the FTA, so we think it's even less likely they're going to get this project funded," he said.