Wednesday, May 18, 2022
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KC Streetcar project team holds meeting about UMKC extension

UMKC may become the final stop on the KC Streetcar.

Following large public demand for the streetcar to be extended, a new proposal for the Kansas City Streetcar to connect to UMKC is in motion with the help of government employees, private contractors and members of the public.

A public meeting was held last week to further discussions of the extension.

First built in 2016, the streetcar takes riders from the River Market to Union Station, a total distance of 2.2 miles. However, the proposed extension would take riders all the way to the 51st Street intersection after finishing a 3.5 mile extension in 2024.

This $316 million project is a large undertaking. Having already secured $165 million in local funding through additional sales taxes and other means, the project is hoping to acquire the other $151 million from a federal grant applied for in September of 2018.

Kansas City residents had the opportunity to give their input on the streetcar to the project team, similar to meetings previously held in April and June.

According to Jennifer Schwaller, a senior team member and consultant from HDR, the public has “had great turnout and a lot of enthusiasm.”

Some public suggestions included increased availability of parking, traffic solutions and discussion on which lane the streetcar should operate in.

The confirmed new stops on the streetcar’s route were based on numerous factors, including expected number of riders, costs to build and operate, economic and development potential and equitable access for KC residents. The project also hopes to provide access to employment, neighborhoods, commerce and activity areas in addition to connecting key cultural stops and educational centers.

The need for an extension is apparent, as the streetcar boasts an impressive four million riders in the two years since its completion. The streetcar also serves as a means of transportation for an average of 5,000 riders daily, of which 43 percent use it to travel to and from work.

John Dobies, a member of the project team and an associate vice president of HNTB, stated that ridership levels were “better than expected,” and “one of the best in the country.” The streetcar is expected to be widely used by KC residents, so much so that if constructed, the city would phase out its Main Max bus system.

Even though there is much excitement for the streetcar, the project members have noted that there is the potential for minor impacts on residents and travelers near construction zones, and that the increase in development could lead to a decrease in affordable housing in areas near the new extension.

For more information regarding the KC Streetcar Project, visit http://kcstreetcar.org/

ccwykr@mail.umkc

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