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Vote Assures Streetcars For Kansas City Downtown

Dan Verbeck

Passage of a Kansas City downtown tax district and a sales tax is a first major step toward financing a streetcar system.

The movement is toward a $100 to $102 million transit project.

The 5 percent hike in commercial property tax and 1-cent sales tax measures on the special mail-in ballot passed by 62 and 63 percent respectively.

It was an election critics claimed was designed to pass.

Passage was critical to the project after application for a $25 million federal grant was rejected. Mayor Sly James told supporters after the ballot measure passed that there will be tangible evidence of streetcars by 2015.

The Mayor termed the non-automobile movement of people critical to the city economy, saying, “there are those in the millennial class who say quite frankly that they’d much rather have an internet connection that a car payment. And I don’t blame them. I would too, if I had a way of getting around. We’re going to provide that way of getting around.”

James’ enthusiasm was seconded by City Council Member Russ Johnson who was beating the drum for streetcar transit before the Mayor was elected.

For listeners at a post-election gathering, Johnson spoke nostalgically of the era of the 1950’s when his mother, as a teenager, used a streetcar to travel throughout the city.

The transit route will follow Main Street linking Union Station and Crown Center with the River Market.

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