Voters in Kansas City have bewildered me. For as long as I’ve lived in Kansas City, a man named Clay Chastain has been fighting to get light rail transit built. It’s been in front of voters many times, each time baring the same result... it gets shot down. Kansas City could really use light rail to tie the town together, it’s #20 on the largest land area cities in America, but I guess us Mid-Westerners just love our cars too much.
Supposedly, this year was the last year that a light rail initiative was going to be on the ballot. Here’s how it was worded:
In order to provide for the people of Kansas City a pioneering urban rail passenger system, constituting the foundation of a future regional transit system, offering not only increased energy-efficiency, comfort, mobility, transportation savings, and convenience, but also a greener, cleaner, safer environment, a stronger economy, and a means to help America reduce its dependence on imported oil; shall the City of Kansas City, Missouri extend the current three-eighths (3/8) cent transportation sales tax, due to expire on March 31, 2009, for 25 years, beginning April 1, 2009 and ending March 31, 2034, with said tax to be used solely to fund the construction, operation, maintenance, and beautification of the following transportation improvements under the auspices of the Kansas City, Missouri City Council:
1. Implement Kansas Cityís new Heartland Light Rail System consisting of a north/south light rail spine beginning at the Kansas City Zoo in Swope Park and ending at Kansas City International Airport including, but not limited to, stops at UMKC, Nelson Art Gallery, Plaza, Westport, Union Station, Performing Arts Center, Convention Center, Power & Light District, Sprint Center, City Market area, North Kansas City, North Oak Trafficway, and Zona Rosa; with the route following 63rd Street, Troost Avenue, 50th Street, Rockhill Road, Emanuel Cleaver Boulevard, Mill Creek Park, Broadway Boulevard, along the high ridge in Penn Valley Park to the junction of Kessler Road and Pershing Road, the west side of Union Stationís Carriage House, Broadway Boulevard, 13th Street, Oak Street, Heart of America Bridge, Burlington Avenue, N. Oak Trafficway, Englewood Road, Waukomis Drive, the interurban right-of-way, Barry Road, Amity Avenue, and concluding at a transit hub, park & ride lot, and shuttle station near Madrid Avenue at KCI; also including new ground level power supply technology (no overhead wires), and park & ride lots;
2. Implement a green fleet of sixty electric shuttles to provide connecting transit service to all light rail stops making possible the expansion of the light rail systemís service area to nearby job centers, neighborhoods, and other primary destinations not directly served by the rail line;
3. Implement an aerial gondola tram system providing passenger service between Union Station, Liberty Memorial, and Penn Valley Park; remove all thru vehicular roads, including Broadway, in the park and re-route traffic around the park; replace roads with landscaped transportation corridors for new bicycle & walking pathways, the gondola, and a wooden light rail truss bridge; with the funds also to be used to retire bond indebtedness related to the projects, and to help secure additional federal, state, and regional transportation funds?
As you can see, sections one and two are good... but then it all goes to hell in section three when the idea of a gondola from Union Station to Liberty Memorial is introduced... WHAT!?! A GONDOLA!?! WHY!?!
Well, surely the public, who has constantly voted down light rail in years past, would do so again with this idiotic idea in place. Right?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for light rail and what it could do for the city (check out Smart Moves to see more plan details), but this plan wasn’t the right one. So what can we look forward to? This, I suppose:
Looks like Scoot has the same idea as me. Copycat.