Transit Action Network (TAN)

Advocates for Improved and Expanded Transit in the Kansas City Region.

Preparations for Two Transit Studies Move Forward

Posted by Transit Action Network on January 8, 2011

Jan 7, 2011: The major agenda item at a Kansas City, Missouri, Parking and Transportation Commission meeting this afternoon was a report on the downtown streetcar concept by Mark Huffer (general manager, KCATA), Dick Jarrold (project engineer, KCATA), and John Dobies (HNTB).  It was largely the same presentation that Dobies gave to MARC’s Transit Committee last month.  The line is expected to run from River Market to Crown Center along Main Street, and would be the first phase of a streetcar / light rail system that would extend farther south to the Plaza.  One of the issues identified was whether this line would be “serious transportation” or a tourist-oriented line.  Presenters articulated a clear bias toward the “serious transportation” purpose (though there would obviously be tourist implications).  We strongly agree.

Huffer confirmed that the streetcar and commuter corridors Alternatives Analysis studies (AA’s) will be done separately, albeit in a coordinated manner. The $1.8 million that the region has received from the FTA for the studies is 90% of the $2 million requested, so each study is expected to receive 90% of the original request.  Thus, the downtown streetcar study would receive $540 thousand and the commuter corridor study $1.26 million.

KCMO and KCATA expect to coordinate and provide the local match for the streetcar study, and the ATA has already written a draft scope of services in preparation for issuing an RFP (request for proposals) next month.  They will meet with the FTA on January 20 to work out details, and they hope to get the KCATA Board of Commissioners to approve the draft scope this month.  If all goes well, KCATA could select a consultant as early as April, and the study will likely take about 10 months.  The streetcar AA can move forward quickly because so much of the 2007-08 light rail AA work is applicable.  There’s also a sense of urgency because Kansas City has a shot at getting “small starts” money from the FTA under the current administration — if they decide to pursue federal funding.  This two-mile segment is part of the 14-mile light rail line that was turned down by voters in 2008, and is widely considered the segment most likely to be eligible for federal funding.

The commuter corridors AA for two lines — one to Blue Springs and beyond, and the other to Lee’s Summit and beyond — is much more complicated and will involve a much larger group of stakeholders, including several local jurisdictions, MoDOT, transit agencies, inner-city neighborhoods, transit advocates, trail proponents, the railroads, etc.  It will be coordinated jointly by Jackson County and MARC with Jackson County providing the local match, and it could easily take a couple of years to complete. They will also meet with the FTA on January 20.


3 Responses to “Preparations for Two Transit Studies Move Forward”

  1. Mark said

    Will the public be able to give input as to the route? I think that the northbound route should use Walnut. It will get more access to power and light, and wouldn’t require crossing from the far right lane to the far left crossing the railroad tracks. The route could then turn right on 7th, then left on Grand.

    For a future route, I suggest south on Main from Crown Center to Westport Rd, southwest on Westport, and then south on JC Nichols to the plaza, maybe even ending at 51st and Broadside, at the UMKC MAX stop. I think Main from 45th to Cleaver/47th is too steep to go up/down for a Streetcar.

    • Janet said

      Thanks for these good comments. We’re confident there will be public input as the AA gets started, but we don’t know how much. Presentations that we’ve seen indicate that, based on the earlier light rail study, the ATA has pretty much settled on Main Street between River Market and Crown Center.
      re-posted for Ron

  2. Hyde Park Joe said

    I’ve heard complaints before that lines this short aren’t much use. I point out that the area’s highway system started with a line that only ran from Quality Hill to Signal Hill. We have to start somewhere.

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