The streetcar passed two of many hurdles today. A joint committee of the Kansas City Council’s Transportation and Infrastructure and its Planning, Zoning and Economic Development committees gave its blessing to a plan to extend the downtown starter line. A consultant team presented its results and recommendations, covering the study of half a dozen corridors throughout the city, economic development potential and funding mechanisms, to the joint committee. The full Kansas City Council also approved the consultant team’s plan.
The recommendation includes three rail extensions and a new MAX service on Prospect Avenue. The nearly 8 new miles of streetcar lines would travel on Independence Avenue, Linwood Boulevard, and Main Street south to the Plaza. Prospect MAX would likely run from 75th Street to 12th Street, then enter downtown.
The three extensions and MAX all work together to create a system, not just separate lines, said the consultant team and Councilperson Russ Johnson. The streetcar system, especially the Linwood route, would help connect to the VA hospital, the Truman Sports Complex, and eventually Jackson County’s Rock Island commuter rail and trail corridor. This connection would be vital to running service out to residents in Raytown, Lee’s Summit, Greenwood, and beyond. It also makes the major connection between the metro area and the KATY trail state park.
Part of the recommendation included a potential funding mechanism for the extension plan. This includes an expanded Transportation Development District (TDD) and federal grants from the New/Small Starts program. The total project costs (excluding costs associated with running the Prospect MAX), are estimated at $500 million.
The proposed TDD would stretch from the river to about Gregory (excluding the Brookside and Waldo neighborhoods) and Stateline to I-435. Within this district, a sales tax of 1% could be imposed. Also, those properties showing benefits from proximity to the streetcar lines would be subject to a special assessment.