MUST READ!!! TKC EXCLUSIVE!!! TRANSIT ACTIVIST CLAY CHASTAIN EXPLAINS HIS KANSAS CITY LIGHT RAIL PLAN AND WHY IT BEATS THE TOY TRAIN STREETCAR!!!!
Tonight we're blessed with a very insightful bit of testimony from Kansas City's most dedicated transit activist.
To wit . . .
CLAY CHASTAIN EXPLAINS HIS VOTER APPROVED LIGHT RAIL PLAN AND WHY IT'S BETTER THAN THE TOY TRAIN STREETCAR!!!
Again, we need to remind readers that Clay Chastain is the only man who has won a citywide transit election AND he has collected more voter petitions that almost anybody in Kansas City.
Here he is offering details of his effort and a great deal of transparency which neither Mayor nor City Council are willing to do with their toy train streetcar ambitions.
GUEST COMMENTARY FROM CLAY CHASTAIN
Kansas City's future awaits direction on the impending course of events concerning two major issues the city has been trying to manipulate:
#1. Will the city's out-dated and under performing transit system be modernized around an expanded downtown streetcar system, or around a
city-wide, multimodal light rail-based transit system?
#2. Will the city's out-dated and inefficient airport be revamped, or completely replaced by a state of the art new single terminal that could also have a new light rail train system designed into it?
The city is making plans to place their expanded streetcar proposal on the August ballot, while continuing to bottle up in court a competing light rail initiative supported by nearly 5,000 registered voters.
Even though the Missouri Supreme Court recently rejected (7-0) the city's preposterous claim the initiative was unconstitutional; and even though case law says, "Initiatives shall be liberally construed to effectuate their purpose;" the city is now trying to exploit a so-called technical glitch in the initiative's ordinance language as their new excuse to continue litigation and not to let the people vote unless ordered to do so by the courts.
The city's assault on the initiative process is to democracy what a chainsaw is to the Amazon rain forest. The initiative is the bugle that sounds to rouse the citizenry that something is amiss in Denmark.
Nevertheless, what rattles the world is when those who are given no chance, wind up winning.
We aim to do so in the court of law because our cause is just, and in the court of public opinion because the light rail initiative is superior to the city's streetcar plan.
Here is a brief review of the city's streetcar plan and its major design flaws:
$600 million, 12-mile maze of streetcars operating in the central city primarily financed by a one-cent sales tax (south of the river) and matching federal funds.
Flaw #1. If the streetcar expansion plan is rejected by voters, presumably the city would still have to build a stand-alone, isolated 2.2 mile Frou Frou streetcar line that was previously approved by a mere 300 voters! $125 million down the drain!
Flaw #2. This one-trick pony transit system will not serve the airport, the outskirts of the city, or even the northland where half the city's population resides and where the city is growing!
Flaw #3. Councilman Russ Johnson even admitted the astounding fact that this transit system is not about moving people but mostly about generating downtown economic development!
Flaw#4. It is unlikely to secure federal matching funds for all the above reasons.
By contrast, here is a re-cap of the light rail initiative that has none of those major flaws:
$1.6 billion, city-wide, multimodal rail system that uses the north wing of Union Station as a regional transportation hub and includes the following interconnected transit modes to insure high ridership, broad urban renewal, and extensive economic development around the rail lines:
1. A straight line light rail train system from south Kansas City to KCI.
2. A commuter rail line from Union Station to southeast Kansas City.
3. An eastside streetcar line from Union Station to the Kansas City Zoo.
4. A new bikeway network and fleet of small electric shuttle buses to expand the service area around the rail lines.
The initiative is projected to raise $1.2 billion from a city-wide sales tax over 25 years, and to secure $800 million from Washington
(50% of $1.6 billion) for a total of $2.0 billion. This leaves a projected $400 surplus for financing charges.
The O&M costs would be covered by private developer fees, user fees, and other contributions.
The cost estimates were derived from the light rail system in Charlotte; the streetcar system in Portland, and Mike Sanders' own estimates for the Grandview commuter rail line in Kansas City.
And unlike the city's streetcar vision, the light rail initiative follows the recommendations of former Mayor Barnes' Final Focus Transit Report (2001) that recommended light rail as the preferred mode of transit around which to build a new transit system in Kansas City!!
The city's manipulation of the airport controversy prompted another initiative petition drive to make sure the voters would have a say.
Nevertheless, I happen to agree with Mayor James and the establishment that see the long term benefits of building a new single terminal to
replace our present concrete behemouth. Especially, if we designed into it a new light rail train system that would save hundreds of
millions of dollars from not having to scab light rail into the airport's current sprawling configuration.
Think of this dynamic presentation of our city:
Welcome to Kansas City and the best new airport in America with convenient light rail train service to the Northland, Downtown, Union
Station, the Plaza, and points beyond.
Kansas City has a glowing future ahead of it if only its manipulative government will start behaving itself, stop repressing alternative
ideas, and in the name of God...let the people vote on their valid light rail initiative.