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More Light Rail Elections Likely

By Steve Bell


Kansas City, MO –
It's looking like Kansas City will have at least two more light rail elections following two new developments Thursday.

The panel performing an analysis of the light rail plan voters approved in November delivered its first report. Mark Huffer of the ATA summed it up in one short sentence, saying: "The money is not sufficient to do what was voted on in November, and alternatives are going to have to be developed."

The study predicts a half-billion dollar shortfall based on Clay Chastain's plan and revenue available from the 3/8 cent sales tax - even if the federal government pays half the construction costs.

Officials of HNTB architects listed a dozen shortcomings of the Chastain plan, including a likely federal funding turn-down on running the line through Penn Valley Park, structural and traffic problems on the Heart of America Bridge and grade problems along the route.

Assistant City Attorney Bill Geary added some inter-governmental problems, such as commandeering Armour and Burlington from North Kansas City during rush hour and demanding modifications of some state bridges and overpasses.

Then the council got the word that sufficient petition signatures for a repeal of the Chastain plan were received this week.

That leaves the council the options of either repealing the plan itself or submitting it to the voters by February, leaving little time to develop an alternative plan.

Council members will negotiate for more time with the group that filed the petitions, but in the meantime are preparing an proposal for a November election.

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