By JOE JAROSZ
April 23, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – It may not be as tough to get around the River Market in the summertime as one would assume.
Although it’s a small area with narrow roads, the city is doing its best to keep traffic – both foot and automobile – accessible during the coming months as work on phase one of the 2.2 mile, $114 million streetcar route along Main Street from the River Market to Union Station begins.
Currently, the construction in the area is being done by private utility companies. Meghan Jansen, public involvement representative for the Kansas City Streetcar constructors, said in the next four weeks, city construction will begin to repair and replace the city’s water and sewer system.
“That started last fall,” Jansen said. “Companies are getting stuff out of the way to make access for our work.”
For a majority of the summer, crews will work to replace the city’s aging water system. Jansen said the city is taking advantage of the roads being torn up to replace old pipes.
“When we do that, it’ll begin in the north end of the River Market then move south,” Jansen said. “Then we expect to lay the first track segments in late August, early September.”
When the work begins on laying tracks, a majority of roads will remain open. The only closure, at this time, will be Delaware Street from Independence Avenue to Third Street. Initially, the plan was to keep one lane open on Delaware Street, but Jansen said as she spoke to area residents and businesses owners, it was determined that closing the street to get the work done quicker was the preferred route.
“It would take longer if we kept one lane open,” Jansen said, adding the goal during construction is to have as many roads remain open to pedestrian traffic to maintain access to the River Market area.
Jansen and streetcar representatives have been visiting the River Market area more frequently recently to talk to residents and area businesses that rely on foot traffic. Updates she’s provided have included what the re-routing will look like and what construction means to the area. She expects to visit the area again soon.
“When we go out and visit with the community, people are focused on the construction aspect,” Jansen said. “What I’ve found in my visits and conversations, people were not initially excited, but now have a good comfort level. It’s an impact and everyone has to get through it to get a new form of transit that will forever shape the area.”
As crews continue to work around the residents and businesses to provide the best access to the area, Jansen noted people can sign-up for weekly construction emails at www.kcstreetcar.org or follow streetcar updates on Facebook and Twitter.
“We really want to talk to people and keep them updated,” Jansen said.
Rail away. On Wednesday, April 16, the first shipment of streetcar rails arrived in Kansas City. The rails will sit in a parking lot in the Crossroads District until installation of the 2.2 mile phase one along Main Street begins. Additional rails will soon be delivered to a separate lot located at 201 Oak St. in the River Market. Joe Jarosz