As the city debates what to do next with light rail, the city’s most widely known light-rail champion -- Clay Chastain -- has begun to discuss ways to alter his own plan.
Up until now, city politicos assumed the Chastain plan would be repealed for various reasons, including costs.
But Chastain said last week in a telephone interview from Virginia that he’s now willing to revise his voter-approved light-rail plan to make it workable.
"I am willing to be open to revising it in order to be practical," said Chastain, who met here last week with light-rail advocates.
Chastain declined to detail his recent discussions. But he said he might be willing to endorse building the 27-mile light-rail plan in increments, starting for example at Swope Park and moving north.
Chastain said a light-rail starter line would spawn a regional system, foster economic growth and restore community pride, attracting new residents and encouraging more city improvements.
But Chastain isn’t sold on changing everything -- he still wants the more expensive traditional light-rail trains. Modern streetcars require overhead wires, which he said do not fit well with the character of the city’s boulevards and parks.
And he said neither The Star nor anyone else should offer different light-rail ideas when his voter-approved plan has not been repealed. He said he fears that continual voting, then repeal of various proposals, will only sour voters on light rail.
Chastain said he did see some merit in the newspaper’s proposal.
But for now, he’s sticking with his light-rail plan -- with maybe a few revisions.