Earlier this week, ex-Missourite and transit wonk Clay Chastain lit up Union Station with some memorable oratorical fireworks to promote the newest version of his old idea: Kansas City can only be saved from itself and propelled into the future if its people are carried around by light rail.
The whole press conference reminded me of the famous Monorail song from The Simpsons. If my Auto-Tune skills existed, I'd have set his words to a beat and spliced in the song.
Briefly, Chastain's plan calls for another ballot initiative to leverage a 3/8-cent sales tax increase over 25 years, and public and private funds for $2.2 billion in order to construct a 35 mile starter light rail, which will eventually tie into an intermodal public transportation system that goes from the 'burbs to the urban core.
Based on a similar line in Charlotte, Chastain said the light rail, which he designed himself using self-taught skills and a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, would use a third-rail instead of overhead wires, tie Penn Valley Park and Union Station into the mix and cost $47 million per mile.
Here's a highlight from Chastain's press conference. He begins by addressing criticisms that mass transit is not a priority during the economic downturn and wraps up with a rather tortured George Brett reference.
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