KC Streetcar awarded grant funds for riverfront extension

Abby Hoover
Managing Editor

Just weeks after funding was awarded for a southbound extension of Kansas City’s downtown streetcar, a $14.2 million grant was announced for the long-anticipated riverfront extension.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced Thurs., September 10, that the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) will receive fiscal year 2020 funding as part of the FTA’s BUILD Grant program for the KC Streetcar Riverfront Extension project.

“This is a continuation of the exciting transportation projects being supported by Senator Blunt and our congressional delegation that are transforming our region,” said Robbie Makinen, president and CEO of KCATA. “KCATA is pleased to be the grant lead for the successful partnership to extend the streetcar to the riverfront.”

This federal funding, which represents 70% of the total project cost, will allow the team to advance design and complete construction on this unprecedented project.The remaining $22.2 million funding will come from local sources, including $5 million from Port KC.

“The extension of the KC Streetcar to Berkley Riverfront is an important component to building a diverse, mixed-use neighborhood,” said Jon Stephens, president and CEO of Port KC. “One that is centered around citizens, transit-oriented, and with a focus on affordability. This federal grant announcement certainly builds on our momentum and allows for Berkley Riverfront to truly connect to the great neighborhoods in our city. Today is a huge win, and the latest step, for building a riverfront for all of Kansas City.”

The KC Streetcar Riverfront Extension project team is a collaborative effort between KCATA, the KC Streetcar Authority, Port KC and the City of Kansas City, Mo.

“I’m pleased that today Kansas City has secured an additional $14.2 million federal grant—on the heels of a recently awarded $50.8 million grant—to continue our Streetcar expansion efforts,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said following the announcement. “Since becoming mayor, I have met with administration leaders in Washington and Kansas City to advocate for our community’s transportation and infrastructure priorities, and I appreciate the U.S. Department of Transportation’s continued recognition of Kansas City’s commitment to providing free public options to all of our residents. I thank our Congressional delegation, the KC Streetcar Authority, the KCATA, and our taxpayers for their support to increase mobility and transit options for Kansas Citians.”

When completed, the project will extend the existing downtown streetcar line 0.55 miles from 3rd Street and Grand Boulevard to the base of the Grand Avenue Bridge near the Union Berkley Apartments and Berkley Riverfront Park.

The project is currently in the design phase, with construction estimated to begin in 2021. The project is expected to be completed by 2024. Project information, including renderings and the BUILD Grant application, may be found on the KC Streetcar website, kcstreetcar.org.

“This extension will not only connect downtown to the riverfront but it will afford numerous other benefits in mobility, improved connectivity, and economic development,” according to the KCATA announcement. “The Riverfront extension will increase the safety and enhance the livability of residents and visitors and introduce a park-and-ride opportunity to the Riverfront. It will provide convenient access for those commuting from the Northland metro to Downtown.”

KC Streetcar Authority Executive Director Tom Gerend said when added to the recently announced Main Street extension federal funding, this project will complete the full transit spine from the Missouri River through Crown Center to the Country Club Plaza as envisioned by the city’s elected leadership many years ago.

“This is another major win for the KC Streetcar, the people of Kansas City, and the businesses who will benefit from additional accessibility,” said Congressman Cleaver. “As we’ve seen over the last four years, millions of riders have utilized this light-rail system to get around downtown free-of-charge to the benefit of small businesses, workers, and consumers alike. I’m proud to have supported this grant funding, and I will continue to be a strong advocate for federal investments in infrastructure in the months and years ahead.”

On August 26, the KC Streetcar Main Street Extension project was awarded $50.8 million in New Starts Capital Improvement Grant funds, which will fund 3.6 miles of a southward extension from Union Station to University of Missouri – Kansas City. Construction on the Main Street Extension is planned to start in late 2021 or early 2022, with a completing date in 2025.

The initial two-mile streetcar route with 16 platform stops was completed in May 2016, and has provided free transportation between Union Station and River Market since then.

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