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Light Rail Petition Heads to City Council

By Maria Carter

Kansas City, MO – Community activist Clay Chastain turned in a petition in hopes of getting a light rail measure on the November ballot, but as KCUR's Maria Carter reports Chastain will face a tight timeline to make that happen.

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Community Activist Clay Chastain has spent the last few months standing outside of grocery stores, but he left the grocery stores yesterday to turn in the petition at city hall. Chastain estimates the cost of the 28 mile light rail system at $945 million. The plan also includes some 60 electric shuttles and aerial gondola from Union Station to Liberty Memorial. All that would be paid for by a 3/8 cent sales tax that is now set to expire in 2009. Chastain has failed several times at getting Kansas City voters to approve a light rail, but he says he expects this time to be different.

Clay Chastain: The way the people have signed this petition we're very hopeful that light rail will pass in November and that Kansas City will be on it's way to being a real city and a city that has a real public transportation system.

But Chastain faces a short window for the light rail proposal to go before voters by November. He turned in some 3400 signatures yesterday. He only needs 2600. The Kansas City elections board says it expects that verifying signatures will take several days. The city clerk then has to submit the motion to the city council. The council is required to approve the measure but can take up to 60 days to do so. To make it to the November election, the council would have to suspend its normal rules and pass the measure during its legislative session next week. If it does not, Chastain and his supporters will have to wait until next year to see the measure on the ballot.

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