After being on the defensive for much of the year over the controversial downtown streetcar scheme, VIA Metro Transit is taking the offensive, asking a judge to allow it to use funds from the 2004 Advanced Transportation District sales tax to develop two downtown transit centers for streetcar use, 1200 WOAI news reports.


  A judge's favorable ruling would allow VIA to skirt the Attorney General's refusal to grant final approval to the use of ATD money, and move forward selling construction bonds backed by the funding.


  When voters approved the sales tax increase, VIA officials promised that the money would not be used for 'light rail' projects.  VIA says the two downtown stations, the Westside Multimodal transit Center and the Robert Thompson Transit Station, are primarily for use by busses, especially VIA's new Primo service, and are not an 'integral part of the streetcar project.'


  A judge is expected to rule on VIA's request following a hearing next month.


  Opponents of the streetcar have claimed that the use of any ATD funding is illegal, and breaks the promise made to the voters when the bond issue was approved.