A major victor of Via Metro Transit in its effort to build the controversial $270 million streetcar line downtown.


  A state district judge in Travis County ruled today that Via can use money from the 2004 Advanced Transportation District sales tax to help leverage the construction of two transit stations downtown.


  Opponents had argued that the use of the ATD sales tax money was illegal, because supporters of the tax had promised that none of the money would be used for 'light rail' projects.


  Attorney General Greg Abbott agreed with the opponents, but his agreement was not in the form of an 'Attorney General's opinion' which would have carried the force of law.


  The ruling clears away a major obstacle toward building the streetcar.  But construction of the streetcar itself is not expected to begin until late next year at the earliest.