Roads closed. The latest phase with the Streetcar construction has lead to more headaches for business owners. The owner of Thistle Antiques, located near the intersection of Fifth and Wyandotte Streets said she’s optimistic about the Streetcar, but worries about the long term planning by the city and the lack of parking available. Joe Jarosz

Northeast News
September 10, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The streetcar construction continues to roll, this time with more congestion in the River Market area.

During the first week of September, lane closures began on Delaware Street entering and exiting the River Market, including the Delaware Avenue bridge over I-70. This phase includes prepping the tracks for the streetcar which will connect downtown Kansas City with the River Market. Crews will also start lining existing sewer pipe along Fourth Street and Grand Boulevard this week. While this process has a minimal impact on traffic, visitors to the River Market area may notice a chemical-like smell in the area of the work. This smell occurs when the pipe liner is curing and is not harmful to people or animals.

Private utility work will continue through the fall while Streetcar Constructors work in the same area. Meghan Jansen, a spokeswoman for KC Streetcar Constructors, said the lane reductions and closures are all short term.

“It was better for us to close Delaware Street because it [the construction work] would have taken a lot longer if we didn’t close it,” Jansen said. “This way was faster and without the traffic backup.”

There are still a few more phases for construction in the River Market area Jansen said. Track placement begins later this month with a completion goal of spring 2015.

Until the construction is complete, business owners are going to have to wait out the storm.

Jack and Kim Nguyen just opened their first restaurant, Nguyen Pho + Grill at 500 Grand Blvd., this past August. The location sits at the intersection of Grand Boulevard and E. Fifth Street, the heart of the Streetcar construction. They selected the location because they wanted to be in the Vietnamese community that’s growing in the River Market and Columbus Park area. They were also drawn to the idea of being near downtown, and welcoming the foot traffic of the hungry office workers just a few blocks away.

“Vietnamese meals are becoming more popular, especially in Kansas City,” Jack said.

But with the heavy streetcar construction, Jack said business has been slow to start. He said with the roads closed and everything going on, they’re not getting much foot traffic.

“The construction is stopping a lot of people from downtown from walking here,” Jack said.

Initially, the restaurant opened from 8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. But after he noticed the lack of patrons, Jack said he cut back his hours to save money. Now, the restaurant is open for lunch from 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 5 – 9 p.m.

“Once it’s finished [the streetcar construction] it’ll be good for business, but it will be tough until then,” Jack said.