KC Streetcar Gets Moving

Matt Melson

The streetcar is finally gaining traction in Kansas City. Construction began recently on the 2-mile-long stretch of line that will connect the River Market area and Union Station.

“This is fantastic news for families and businesses in Kansas City,” said US Senator Claire McCaskill in reference to approval by the Department of Transportation of a $20 million TIGER grant to fund the project. “This streetcar project will encourage housing, construction, and business development in the city-and that will mean more jobs across the region.”

The journey for this streetcar started back in August 2012 when voters approved the creation of the Kansas City Downtown Transportation Development District. This was the organization that was going to help fund the streetcar project for downtown.

The first lengths of line were initially laid on Nov. 14 2013 with help from materials left over from the Dallas streetcar project. Construction since then has been moving smoothly and has many people in Kansas City excited to see the changes.

The rail will consist of two separate lines running parallel along Main Street in downtown Kansas City. The plan is for 18-20 total stops, spaced about two blocks apart, along the 2-mile strip, allowing passengers to get off as close to their destination as possible.

Some concern came when the construction made its way to the bridge above I-670. This bridge was reconstructed a few years back but the original design of the bridge did not include room for track installation. The construction company was able to use temporary fill material and the project was able to continue.

If all goes as planned, the line is set to be finished by mid-2015.

Several different committees have been meeting since August to discuss the possible expansion of the streetcar to other parts of the metropolitan area. There were eight separate proposals for expansions, all extending the line into distinct parts of the metro but only three of the proposals scored high enough in their impact rating to be considered for expansion. The top three expansions were  Main St, 31st Street/ Linwood Boulevard and  Independence Avenue.

Although these scored high enough to be considered, and the deliberation of possible expansion is still underway, the already approved streetcars are expected to have a positive impact on much of Kansas City.

All passengers will ride for free since the streetcar will be run by the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, a not-for-profit organization.