EmX foes vow June court appeal

EUGENE, Ore. - The controversial west Eugene EmX rapid bus route is about to move to a new phase: some actual work.

But while engineers do their planning, project opponents are ready to file court appeals.

With all the legal approvals in hand, Lane Transit District managers say survey crews are ready to roll on this latest leg of the EmX rapid bus system.

Meanwhile, project opponents like Bob Macherione claim the game's not over.

The Our Money-Our Transit committee chair says the federal government's finding of EmX having no serious environmental impact, is flawed. Macherione tells KVAL News, "We believe that we can get that overturned and LTD will have to start all over on this project."

He says attorneys for O-MOT plan to file that appeal next month, and he rates their chances at better than 50/50.

LTD begs to differ. "All the planning and analysis work done on the project has been thorough, it has been accurate and it will hold up to legal scrutiny," said LTD spokeswoman Lisa VanWinkle.

VanWinkle says as part of the early groundwork, the LTD will meet one-on-one with property owners.

She adds, "We want to work with each property owner to see if there are any refinements we can make to the design that would minimize changes for them."

VanWinkle says the 2 existing EmX routes have building popularity, with a single day ridership record last month (April 19--11,694 riders).

Macherione says tell that to more than 500 affected west Eugene business owners. "For a project of this size, $95-million wasted is just too huge to ignore," said Macherione.

LTD wants to start construction in 2015 on the new EmX route, with first rides by 2017.

VanWinkle says of the $95-million project cost, $75-million will be from federal funds and $21-million from state lottery bonds.

From that second number, $15-million is still not approved by the state.