Commuter Corridors Advisory Group Has First Meeting
Posted by Transit Action Network on September 8, 2011
The first meeting of the Jackson County Commuter Corridor Alternatives Analysis Stakeholder Advisory Panel was held on August 31. Project manager Shawn Dikes of Parsons Brinckerhoff said the study team is “starting from scratch,” and that they are not here to validate some pre-determined solution. TAN advocates Janet Rogers and Mark McDowell are on the panel.
The study team offered a wider range of options than a lot of people expected: several bus alternatives; streetcar or light rail on a couple of alignments; and several “commuter rail” alignments that had not previously been seen in public. Dikes admitted, however, that they chose to eliminate such options as subways, monorails, and gondolas. (That got a laugh.)
By consensus the group eliminated a commuter rail route that would terminate at the north edge of the river market.
Dikes reminded the panel that FTA funding for rail projects that are doing well in an AA are currently receiving a maximum of 50 % of the capital costs to build the system. Asking for less money increases a project’s chances of being federally funded.
Whether a suitable so-called “common line” can be found westward from near the sports complex into downtown Kansas City may turn out to be the critical question for commuter rail. At the meeting, TAN expressed concern that one of the routes would go through a disadvantaged community in the vicinity of 18th and Topping. Project work has to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Disadvantaged communities affected by the project have to be included in the planning process and the project cannot adversely affect the community. Lawsuits have been field against rail projects in other cities related to this issue. MARC is already discussing these issues with community leaders.
Dikes said that the FTA would not fund rail that hurts bus service. The rail service in this study would likely differ enough from express bus routes, that the express buses could not be eliminated in order to help pay for rail.
Transit Action Network posted some concerns a couple of weeks ago about the commuter rail concept as developed in last year’s corridor study: https://transactionkc.com/2011/08/16/consultants-face-big-challenge-studying-regional-rapid-rail/
The consultant team has drafted a “Purpose and Need” statement and is currently developing an executive summary.
According to the FTA: “(A) study “purpose and need” establishes the problems that must be addressed in the analysis; serves as the basis for the development of project goals, objectives, and evaluation measures; and provides a framework for determining which alternatives should be considered as reasonable options in a given corridor. … This information provides the context for performing the analysis and for identifying the measures against which alternatives strategies will be evaluated. It also serves as an introduction for decision makers, stakeholders, and the general public to the study area and its transportation problems and needs.”
The FTA goes on to say that “the purpose and need statement serves as the cornerstone for the alternatives analysis.” The statement should not point to one solution, but be as concise as possible, focusing on the primary transportation issues addressed in the alternatives analysis.
The first public meeting on the alternatives analysis will be from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. on September 27, 2011 at the Ennovation Center, 201 N. Forest Avenue, Independence, Mo. The focus of the meeting will be on the purpose and need for the project and the range of alternatives being considered. Four public meetings are planned. Details will follow as they become available.