KC Light Rail

Your source for news and information on Kansas City’s light rail progress

Mike Sanders to appear on KCUR at 11 a.m.

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders will be on KCUR's Up To Date this morning to discuss his commuter rail proposal and other county issues (charter review, elections, taxes, etc.). The show begins at 11 a.m. on 89.3 FM and is also available as a live stream. Here's a Rapid Rail Presentation of Sanders' PowerPoint slides, in case you want to bone up before calling in.

We'll bet you a KCATA monthly pass that Clay Chastain will call in, given that Sanders has refused to face-off in a duel debate over the merits of each plan.

Hat tip to the new KC transit blog, Transit Action Network!

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Clay Chastain at Union Station

Clay Chastain
Photographer Eric Bowers captured Clay Chastain during his petition drive at Union Station on Saturday, which was also National Train Day. Chastain gathered about 1,000 signatures, but announced today he'd be scaling back the proposal.

Earlier in the week, Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders made a competing pitch to the Kansas City City Council; the Council tentatively agreed to support the Sanders plan [PDF] and is considering a change in the petition process that would require a financial statement from the city auditor for each petition initiative submitted to voters.

Photo used with permission.

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Chastain to air radio spot, hold petition rally

We received this in email this morning:

PRESS RELEASE

April 22, 2010

Clay Chastain

Once again, we are exercising our right under the Constitution to petition our government for grievances.

Our grievance is that Kansas City’s government has failed to provide the people a modern, efficient, and attractive transit system to move about the city that saves people money, protects the environment, and helps stimulate the local economy.

Included in this press release is the text and the audio of a radio spot advertising this effort and informing the voters of Kansas City where they can come to sign the light rail and charter change initiative.

This new radio spot will air today at 5:52p.m on KMBZ radio and continue to run as funds allow up to the petition signing rally at Union Station on May 8 from 9:00am to 3:00pm.

In the past, people have complained that they did not know where to find us to sign light rail petitions. So, we are giving the public a one-day opportunity to come to us.

Thank you for any assistance you can provide in informing the public of this most important civic matter.

The radio spot is here [MP3].

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Crossing the river is about to get easier

MoDOT broke ground today on Kansas City's first, safe Missouri River crossing for pedestrians and bicycles… ever.

See the video above for the Heart of America Bridge makeover.

Believe it or not, crossing the river on foot or bike today is a very dicey affair — unlike almost all other river cities. There is literally no room on the Broadway Bridge, Heart of America traffic zooms along at 50+ mph, and MoDOT slammed the door on ped/bike access on the brand-new Paseo Bridge.

The Heart of America crossing will be barrier-separated, although users will need to start their trip on 3rd Street in the River Market or on Burlington Street in North Kansas City. Auto users are treated to a plethora of access options.

This new crossing is even more necessary when you consider the limited transit options connecting the two halves of Kansas City — bus service is limited after 6 p.m., and non-existent on Sundays.

The HOA bridge had been tagged as the river crossing in most of the light rail plans that crossed into the northland. However, it was deemed in recent plans to be incapable of handling full light rail vehicles and would need to be rebuilt.

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A message for transportation advocates

We recorded the above message for advocates with Dan Johnson-Weinberger, a lobbyist for the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, at their annual meeting over the weekend. Dan's message is basically to keep it local by talking to your local elected officials first (mayor, council, aldermen), then having them talk to their state and federal counterparts.

While Sens. Bond or Brownback may not take a personal call from you, they will take one from your mayor.

Feel free to pass the message on to others.

A perfect example of this groundswell is the recent success in Kansas. Bipartisan majorities supported a bill that enables (but does not fund) state-sponsored passenger rail service in the state… something that, until recently, was widely touted as forbidden by the state's constitution. Grassroots advocates sought resolutions of support from every city council along the proposed route, encouraging their legislators to act.

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Midwest HSR meeting this weekend

We'll be attending the Midwest High Speed Rail Association's Annual Meeting this weekend in Chicago and will do our best to offer live coverage via Twitter.

This event tends to be heavily focused on Illinois, but there will be an overview of passenger rail projects funded by the Recovery Act (which includes Missouri). There will also be an overview of a French proposal for 220 mph service in the Midwest, which includes a link to Kansas City.

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