March 28, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – On Thursday, March 27, the Kansas City council unanimously approved the streetcar phase two expansion plan and budget, paving the way for streetcars in northeast Kansas City.
The additions approve service lines along Independence Ave. from downtown to Benton Boulevard, Linwood Boulevard to Prospect Avenue and Main Street to the campus of the University of Kansas City-Missouri. The cost estimate for the expansion is around $471.9 million, with $142.5 million for the Independence Avenue corridor, $117 million for Linwood Boulevard and $212.4 million for the Main Street extension. Funding for the three routes shall be done in conjunction with the capital funding for the Prospect MAX route, including local, state and federal funding means.
The Independence Avenue route shall be designed to allow it to be ultimately extended to at least the area near Topping Avenue. The route will serve Columbus Park and northeast Kansas City.
Councilman Russ Johnson this was just the first of three steps of phase two of the streetcar. He said next, residents will need to vote to approve how to pay for the rail system and third, the city will need to find a financial partner, which is most likely the federal government.
“This was the first of those three steps and the others will be just as challenging as the first,” Johnson said. “We should assume much of the difficult work lies ahead of us.”
Later this year, voters will be asked to approve or deny creating a tax district and a sales tax increase to support phase two.
Councilman John Sharp said with the passing of phase two, the city is finally seeing passenger rail system restored. Councilman Jermaine Reed echoed Johnson’s comments, adding hard work lies ahead, but he’s excited at the possibilities that away the urban core, especially those along Independence Avenue.
“We have an opportunity to be seen as people moving the ball forward,” Reed told the council.
Mayor Sly James noted he’s also looking forward to the continuation of the streetcar with the next phase.
“We want to spread economic prosperity across the entire town and we can do that with the continuation of phase two,” James said.