Activist Clay Chastain is back in Kansas City collecting signatures for yet another citywide "green" transportation plan.
His latest proposal, which Chastain hopes to get on the November ballot, is projected to cost $1.3 billion in capital construction and be financed by extending the current 3/8-cent bus sales tax for 25 years and adding a new, 25-year, 1/4-cent capital improvement sales tax.
"Our transit system in this city is a disaster," Chastain said as he began seeking more than 1,700 valid signatures of Kansas City voters for an initiative petition.
Chastain, who now lives in Virginia, was given three minutes to make his case Thursday before the City Council's Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. He said he had already collected 400 signatures on his petition by standing outside one store.
Chastain has presented many transportation plans for Kansas City over the years and has had contentious relationships with city officials. Chastain said he did not clear this petition's wording in advance with the city's legal department.
Chastain's last plan was rejected by Kansas City voters, as were eight others before it. One of his plans passed in 2006, but it was repealed by the City Council as unworkable. Chastain repeatedly has vowed to end his quest, but he keeps coming back.
A key element of the latest plan is a "virtual rail" route between Union Station and Kansas City International Airport. The Chinese-engineered system, Chastain said, would use driverless buses that look like light-rail trains but operate on rubber tires in a dedicated highway lane.
From Union Station, two "smart rail" trains would extend separately to the Truman Sports Complex and eventually to Lee's Summit, and to the Kansas City Zoo in Swope Park.
The existing streetcar system downtown would remain in place but would not be expanded.
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority's diesel-powered buses would be replaced with electric vehicles. A new fleet of driverless, 15-seat electric shuttle buses would bring people to and from light rail stops.
A two-mile aerial gondola system would link the downtown convention district with Penn Valley Park.
In steps that Chastain acknowledges are controversial, some roads would be closed. All roads and motor-vehicle traffic in Penn Valley Park would be removed.
Also, "blighted" Troost Avenue between Emmanuel Cleaver II and Meyer boulevards would be closed to vehicular traffic. Only rail, pedestrians and bicycles would be allowed.