Tiger grant to provide major boost for Downtown Streetcars

The Downtown Streetcar project received a shot of adrenaline last Friday, when the federal government announced the City of Kansas City will receive a $20 million federal transportation grant.

The grant will be used to help fund construction of the 2- mile streetcar system that is expected to become operational in about two years. The federal grant is expected to cover about 20 percent  of the $102 million in project costs for the streetcar system that will run from Union Station to the River Market.

The north-south streetcar route (approximately 4 miles round trip) will operate on City streets and connect the River Market area, near the Missouri River, to the renowned Crown Center/Union Station area and will also serve the Central Business District, the Crossroads Arts District and the Kansas City Power & Light District. The route will run largely on Main Street.

“This streetcar project will encourage housing, construction, and business development in the city, and that will mean more jobs across the region,” U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill told The Kansas City Star. 

The Star followed on Wednesday with an editorial that said, “Kansas City’s planned two-mile streetcar system doesn’t have the potential, at least yet, to move many people. But it could help spur downtown development, and that’s important progress.” Click here to read The Star’s complete opinion piece.

Click here to read more of reporter Lynn Horsley’s story for The Star

Click here to read coverage from Austin Alonzo for The Kansas City Business Journal.




State appeals court upholds dismissal of lawsuit over streetcar taxes

Kansas City’s Downtown streetcar project overcame a big legal hurdle Wednesday when the Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the downtown taxes to help pay for it,” The Kansas City Star reported today.

“The appeals court upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit that threatened the financial viability of the project,” wrote reporter Lynn Horsley.

“An attorney for two property owners challenging the taxes said Wednesday that he has not ruled out a further appeal, but streetcar supporters cheered the ruling and said momentum is growing for the $100 million project, planned to run for 2 miles from the River Market to close to Union Station, primarily on Main Street,” according to The Star.

‘“It’s a very fitting milestone,”’ David Johnson, co-founder of Streetcar Neighbors, a grassroots group of Downtown residents and a member of the Streetcar Authority, told The Star. ‘“It’s really time that we move Kansas City transit forward.”’

Click here to read the complete story in today’s Star.

Appeals court upholds dismissal of lawsuit over Downtown streetcars

“Kansas City’s Downtown streetcar project got a big boost today with an appeals court ruling affirming the legality of the local taxes to help pay for it,” according to The Kansas City Star.

“The Missouri Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit that threatened the financial viability of the project, which is expected to cost about $100 million and run for two miles from the River Market to close to Union Station, primarily on Main Street,” wrote reporter Lynn Horsley.

When the streetcar becomes operational in about two years, it will be a modern transit solution to fill a long-noted gap in the city’s revitalized Downtown.

“Two property owners who opposed the Downtown property and sales taxes to help pay for the streetcar system had asked the appeals court to reverse Jackson County Circuit Judge Peggy Stevens McGraw’s dismissal of their lawsuit,” The Star said. “They argued that it would be unfair to forever deny them a chance to challenge those taxes in court. But the appeals court said the deadline for such a challenge has passed, and the project should be allowed to move forward.”

To read the complete story in The Star, click here.

KC streetcar leaders select firm to build the new system

“One step forward and one step sideways.” That was how The Kansas City Star on Wednesday described this week’s progress on the Downtown streetcar project.

“On one hand, the city opened bids and announced the apparent winner to manage and build a new streetcar system that is supposed to run through the heart of Downtown, from River Market to near Union Station,” reported Lynn Horsley of The Star. “On the other, lawyers sparred before a Missouri Court of Appeals panel over a case challenging whether the new Downtown taxes to help pay for the $100 million streetcar project are legal and constitutional.

“The appeals court ruling is not expected for several months. In the meantime, the city is proceeding with planning, utility relocations, streetcar vehicle selection and other tasks, all in hopes of possibly starting streetcar construction late this year.”

‘“The hope is to have things in place to start construction as soon as possible,”’ public works spokesman Sean Demory said on Tuesday. ‘“When things are resolved on the legal side, we want to hit the ground running.”’

To read The Star’s complete story on the streetcar, click here.


KC Streetcar: Website, Construction Update, Lawsuit

Streetcar Website Now Live:  www.kcstreetcar.org 

The City of Kansas City, Missouri has launched the first edition of the KC Streetcar website that is designed to let you know what to expect in the coming days and months.  From now until the summer of 2015 when the KC Streetcar opens, the City and its consultants will be working to bring a modern and exciting world-class transit solution to Downtown Kansas City.

The website, www.kcstreetcar.org, will serve as the main hub for project updates.  Through this site, you’ll be able to get the latest detour information, full maps of the route, access to project and construction updates and much more.  You can follow them on Facebook a www.facebook.com/KCStreetcar and on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/kcstreetcar. There is also a YouTube and Nixle page that you can access through the website. For more information contact info@kcstreetcar.org.

Look for more information soon about a public event planned for 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21 at Union Station.

Construction Update

Starting today (Monday, Feb. 4), the project team will be walking the route and knocking on doors to meet residents, business owners and workers in the area.  At the same time, TREKK Design Group will begin their work to locate underground vaults and storage areas that could impact construction.  Drilling will begin along the route to explore underground conditions related to electric poles that will ultimately need to be installed to provide power to the streetcars during the week of Feb. 11. 

Once these steps have been completed, it’s expected that construction will begin in mid-2013.  There will be at least two rounds of construction – the first round will move utilities while the second will put the streetcar tracks in place.  Construction will be completed in two- or three-block segments, and they will work with business owners and residents along the route to minimize disruptions.

Property Owners File Lawsuit

Two Downtown property owners filed suit against Kansas City Streetcar Transportation Development District in Jackson County Circuit Court on Thursday, Jan. 31, seeking to halt the collection of new downtown sales and property taxes funding the Downtown streetcar project.  Read more about the suit in this Kansas City Star article: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/01/31/4042414/lawsuit-challenges-kc-streetcar.html#storylink=misearch

Links to other streetcar news:

Take a Ride on the Streetcar via this Google Map-Based Video


Tax vote paves way for Downtown streetcar

At long last, Kansas City has voter-approved funding build a two-mile streetcar line through the heart of Downtown. Voting was completed last week. The city hopes to begin construction in 2013 and to begin operations in 2015.

The $100 million streetcar system will run from River Market to Union Station, primarily on Main Street.

“This is going to be a game changer for our city, especially our downtown,” City Councilwoman Jan Marcason told The Kansas City Star.

To read the complete story in The Star, check out:



Streetcar Clears Hurdle; Project Picks Up Speed

Downtown rail transit passed a significant milestone today as the Federal Transit Administration issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) to the planned Kansas City Streetcar Project. 

The City of Kansas City, Mo., Public Works Department submitted an environmental assessment for the project in late September, evaluating project alternatives and potential environmental consequences associated with those alternatives. The FTA approved the findings today, allowing the project to move forward.

The Kansas City Streetcar Authority also met today and received a presentation from HDR, the City’s Streetcar Consultant which reviewed the National Streetcar Experience; gave an overview of the KC Streetcar project and updated members on Advanced Conceptual Engineering, the Project Implementation Schedule and the Construction Management and Communications schedule.
Highlights of the meeting included:
  • The City hopes to start final design in January 2013.
  • The Streetcar Authority is initiating the process to hire an operator with the goal of having one in place by June 2013.
  • The Streetcar Authority approved an Operating Agreement with City after months of negotiation.
  • It was announced that TDD ballots were mailed on Monday are due back on 12/11.

All meetings of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority are open to the public. The next meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the last Wednesday of the month, location tbd. Additionally, technical documents related to the project can be viewed at  http://www.kcmo.org/CKCMO/Depts/PublicWorks/CityTransit/index.htm.

Downtown streetcar plan passes

Kansas City’s streetcar plan passed the test with Downtown voters yesterday, as they approved a special taxing district to help fund the project.

According to today edition of The Kansas City Star:

City officials said they’ve also found a way to close a $25 million gap in federal funds for the project, and they’re now confident they can raise all the money necessary for a $100 million, two-mile streetcar system from River Market to Crown Center.

“This project is a go,” City Councilman Russ Johnson told an enthusiastic crowd of transit advocates who gathered at Union Station. “We are on schedule for 2015 and we will be riding streetcars in 2015.”

Johnson and others were reacting to the Kansas City Election Board’s announcement that the special taxing district had passed by a vote of 319-141.

Mayor Sly James thanked voters for moving Kansas City closer to fixed rail than it has been in decades.

“Because of their efforts, we are closer than we have ever been to bringing streetcars back to Kansas City,” he said in a prepared statement. “Advocates for the downtown modern streetcar are tired of talk and ready for action on this issue.”

The election board certified the ballots Wednesday from an unusual mail-in election featuring only registered voters living within the boundaries of the proposed downtown taxing district. Those boundaries generally encompass the River Market, the Downtown Loop and Crown Center.

The vote affirmed the district’s creation and established the maximum property and sales taxes that can be imposed on downtown residents, commercial property owners and business customers.

“I’m very pleased,” said David Johnson, a downtown resident and streetcar advocate, who is no relation to Russ Johnson. “It means we can seek 75 percent of the cost through local funding. It’s the critical piece for the project.”

The city will need to hold a second election, possibly as early as Nov. 6, to seek downtown voter approval of the specific tax rates. The city is trying to refine the costs for the streetcar system before seeking that second vote.

Based on the margin of victory, both Russ Johnson and David Johnson said they’re very confident the tax rates will pass.

Regional Transit Alliance Chairman Kite Singleton, who has seen Kansas City try and fail for years to get fixed rail, was excited something may finally be happening.

“I think this is a great start,” he said, adding that it may also jump-start plans for Jackson County commuter rail.

Singleton said he thinks the MAX bus is great, but it lacks the “coolness factor” that streetcars bring, and the ability to serve as a catalyst for more downtown economic development and density.

To read the complete story in The Star, visit http://www.kansascity.com/2012/08/01/3737131/streetcar-district-approved-by.html



Imagine KC: Downtown Streetcar and TOD Video

Imagine… a streetcar in Downtown Kansas City… just imagine.

As Downtown Kansas City prepares for a special election on the proposed streetcar line, the KCPT program Imagine KC examines the impact of transit oriented development (TOD) on our metropolitan area. In this edition Imagine KC, KCPT’s Randy Mason and Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Chris Leinberger tour some of the streetscape found along the line, with an eye to the commerce and development that its proponents predict will follow.

After their tour, the two return to the KCPT studios, joined by developer and Downtown Council member Jon Copaken and Raytown Mayor David Bower, to discuss more about the long‐range benefits of TOD, and its implications for surrounding cities and suburbs.


Downtown Council endorses TIGER grant application for Streetcar

The Executive Committee of the Downtown Council of Kansas City voted unanimously on Thursday, April 19 to endorse the City’s pursuit of a federal $25 million Tiger IV grant application considered crucial to building a $100 million Downtown Streetcar system.

The endorsement marks an important milestone in the streetcar development process. It illustrates a spirit of cooperation between the City and the Downtown Council as they work in partnership to address concerns  regarding the proposed 2.2-mile streetcar system through the heart of Downtown.

“Like the City, our membership has a great affinity for Downtown and want nothing more than to help Downtown Kansas City succeed,” said Bill Dietrich, president of the Downtown Council. “We look forward to continued efforts to help define a streetcar project that becomes a true catalyst for economic development in Kansas City.”

“We are encouraged by these modifications and continue to work with the City on a daily basis to further delineate the governance plan, secure additional funding, finalize the transit-oriented development plan, ensure the development of an effective construction mitigation plan and ensure coordination with the Jackson County Commuter Rail Study,” Dietrich said. “Although much work remains to be accomplished, we appreciate the efforts of Mayor James, Councilmen Johnson and Glover and City staff who listened to concerns expressed and responded by making the proposal more viable.”

Downtown Council endorses continuation of Downtown streetcar feasibility study

Downtown Council endorses continuation of Downtown streetcar feasibility study

“Kansas City Mayor Sly James is starting the new year pushing hard for a downtown streetcar plan, traveling to Washington this week to lobby federal officials and winning early support Thursday from a key local constituency, the Downtown Council,” The Kansas City Star reported in today’s edition. Downtown Council leaders Ron Coker, board chairman, and Bill Dietrich, president and CEO, were part of the mayor’s team that visited Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to advance the streetcar plan.

To read the full story in today’s Star, go to: