December 21, 2010

Tom Gerend, Assistant Transportation Director,, 816/701-8303

Region awarded federal funds to study urban streetcar and commuter transit corridors

The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded the Kansas City region a $1.8 million competitive grant to study options for a combined urban streetcar in downtown Kansas City, Mo., and commuter transit network in Jackson County, Mo. The Mid-America Regional Council partnered with Jackson County, Mo., Kansas City, Mo., and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority to submit the proposal in July.

The study — called an "alternatives analysis" — will help local officials select preferred service options based on the benefits, costs and impacts of investments that could address transportation needs in the following corridors:

  1. an I-70 commuter alignment heading east from Union Station, running in a shared corridor, to approximately the I-70/I-435 interchange, where it then runs east along I-70 through the cities of Independence, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove and Odessa.
  2. a Rock Island alignment southeast of downtown, generally along Missouri Route 350, and specifically along the former Rock Island railroad right of way (not currently in service) through the communities of Raytown, Lee’s Summit, Greenwood and Pleasant Hill.
  3. a downtown Kansas City, Mo., circulator system connecting Crown Center and Union Station with the Crossroads District, downtown Kansas City, and the River Market area — representing the region’s most travelled and densely populated corridor.

The goal is to advance implementation of Greater Kansas City's Smart Moves vision for regional transit service by laying the foundation for an integrated, high-capacity urban and commuter transit system that connects communities to employment, entertainment and housing opportunities throughout the region. The study will evaluate various transit modes for the corridors, such as express bus, bus rapid transit, streetcar, light rail and commuter rail, and will identify a preferred service alternative within each corridor.

"We've begun making improvements to infrastructure in key urban corridors to support a bus rapid transit network," said Raytown, Mo., Mayor David Bower, a co-chair of MARC's Transit Committee. "This grant will continue the region's momentum by helping to outline our plan for expanded commuter services."

The alternatives analysis aligns with federal sustainability and livability priorities and will build on past planning work conducted by MARC, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), Kansas City, Mo., and Jackson County. Conducting this type of study is a required step in pursuing federal funds for future capital investments in public transit.

"There's a great deal of enthusiasm for advancing transit services that improve quality of life, better connect people to the places they need to go, and position our region to remain successful in the coming decades," said Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders.

The Federal Transit Administration had approximately $25.7 million available in transit-planning funds from fiscal year 2009 and 2010 to award through its Alternatives Analysis Program. Kansas City's was one of 23 proposals nationwide to be awarded funding — receiving 90 percent of its original $2 million request.

The application was widely supported by numerous local governments, economic development agencies and community groups, in addition to the region's congressional delegation including Senators Bond and McCaskill, and Congressmen Cleaver, Graves and Skelton. Jackson County and Kansas City, Mo., will provide some required local match funds.

Original application:

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