Transit Action Network (TAN)

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

So Many Alternatives to Evaluate in Jackson County!

Posted by Transit Action Network on October 13, 2011

The Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis is studying six different alternatives to find the best option to improve transit from Eastern Jackson County into downtown Kansas City.  The commuter corridors under consideration are east along the I-70 corridor to Oak Grove and southeast along the old Rock Island Corridor possibly all the way to Pleasant Hill.

JCCCAA Open House-Independence

The Federal Transit Administration requires the study look at different alternatives to find the best and most cost-effective solution in a corridor. At the first open house the project team presented each alternative with descriptions and maps. They published the JCCCAA_Open_House_Booklet_092711 with these details.

The study is guided by FTA standards and will evaluate and compare the alternatives for mobility improvements, user benefits, operating efficiencies, cost effectiveness, ridership numbers, capital and operating costs, existing transit supportive land-use, and economic development effects. Economic development effects are evaluated based on transit supportive plans and policies and the actual performance of the land use policies as well as the potential impact of the project on regional land use.  Transit supportive plans and policies include factors such as growth management, transit supportive corridor policies, supportive zoning regulations near stations and tools to implement land use policies.

Here are the basic alternatives under consideration. The streetcar/light rail description in the booklet of the Alternative 5 eastern corridor is incorrect. It is a spur into Independence. The map is correct.

Alternative 1 is the baseline alternative for comparison. This is a  “No Build” scenario with minimum investment.

Display board for one of the alternatives

Alternative 2 is Transportation System Management to improve operating efficiency of current systems without adding capacity on the highways or making major capital improvements to the transit system. This could include improvements to the Scout System, improvements to the transit system already identified in the KCATA Comprehensive Service  Analysis, and expansion of Transportation Demand Management/ridesharing programs. TAN feels that many of these ideas should be implemented regardless of the other outcomes in the study since they can be done in the near term with relatively small financial outlays and noticeable improvements to the management of the corridors for all transportation modes, including cars.

Independence Mayor Reimal

Alternative 3 is an Enhanced Express Bus to Oak Grove and Pleasant Hill via the current highway system. There is the possibility of using Bus on Shoulder on I-70 between I-470 and the Kansas City Central Business District sometime in the future.

Alternatives 4 and 5 basically build on Alternative 3 by adding Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on US 40 and the Rock Island corridor, then adding a streetcar/light rail line from Crown Center that has two spurs, one to Independence and one to Raytown.  In these versions, the southeastern corridor uses the Rock Island corridor as a fixed guideway for the Enhanced Express Bus as well as the BRT.

One of the alternatives 3, 4 or 5 may be the preferred alternative if Regional Rapid Rail isn’t competitive in the analysis.

Alternative 6 is the Regional Rapid Rail system. There are three variations to the route provided, but the Truman Road route has been discussed the most. This system uses underutilized rail in the suburbs but requires new rail in multiple sections including the last seven miles into downtown. The eastern corridor uses the KC Southern line to Noland Road then requires new rail to cut over to the Truman Sports Complex. The southeastern corridor uses the old Rock Island line to just west of the Truman Sports Complex at US40. The Rock Island Corridor has not been used for almost 40 years, so it will be interesting to find out how much renovation is needed to return the line to safe operating condition.

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders

Study participants from Parsons Brinckerhoff, Shockey Consulting and MARC

Both lines converge just east of the sports complex. There is discussion of a station south of the Chiefs south parking lot, what is currently the wooded area past entrance 3 to the Chiefs parking lot. A train viaduct can be seen as it crosses Blue Ridge Cuttoff just north of Raytown Road.

The two routes use a Common Line into downtown.  The last seven miles of the Common Line, after Leeds Junction by US 40, is on new tracks and often runs on city streets. According to the MARC corridor study in 2010, anytime the DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) vehicle travels on the streets it will have a maximum speed of 25 mph.  It goes north in the vicinity of 18th and Topping to Truman Road west of Jackson Avenue, and travels on Truman Road at a maximum speed of 25 mph. It turns south on Cherry to 20th where it turns west to arrive north of Union Station in the Freight House district close to Jack Stack Bar-B-Que.  This area is on the old KC Star storage track.  TAN still has many outstanding concerns about this alternative as expressed in an earlier article related to last year’s corridor study.

There are two other versions of this alternative. One has the eastern route stay on the KCS line until 23rd street and skips the Sports Complex. The 23rd street route runs down the center of the street at a maximum speed of 25 mph and connects with the Common Line at I-435. The other variation has both routes connecting at the Sports Complex, and traveling along the Common Line but cross Truman Road and follows the Kansas City Terminal and then the “trench embankment” into the Freight House district north of Union Station.

TAN is waiting on the project team to provide more details about the routes as they proceed in the study. Some sections of the routes are still vague, but that is normal since the study just started and the team needs time to find the best options.

The project team held three open house sessions the last week of September, Independence, Raytown and Union Station, to explain and discuss the “Purpose and Needs” statement for the project and show the public the proposed alternatives. There was an excellent turnout. Three additional public meetings are planned in November 2011, January 2012 and March 2012.  Visit the study’s website for more information.

Project Leader Shawn Dikes

In Independence, Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders spoke about the need to plan ahead for future transit needs. He also made the point that even if you personally don’t use transit many of the people you interact with do, so you still need transit. Parsons Brinckerhoff Project Manager Shawn Dikes had a PowerPoint presentation to explain the study. See his presentation JCCCAA-Open-House-Presentation-Sept2011

This study is costing $1.2 million. MARC plans to add the study for the US71/Grandview corridor to this study. Jackson County has already received $652,200 to do that study plus MARC has applied for another $1.2 million for the US71 corridor and hopes all these studies can be combined.

TAN feels very strongly that the region needs to implement the best alternative from this study, whether it is Enhanced Express Bus, BRT, Streetcar/Light Rail, Regional Rapid Rail  or a combination.  If we are going to spend this amount of money on studies then it is our responsibility, to the best of our ability, to implement the recommendations that come out of them.

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