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Jackson County and KCATA partner to finance purchase of Rock Island Corridor

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On Tuesday, Jackson County officials gathered to announce an official partnership with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, which will provide the financing necessary for the future acquisition of the 17.7 miles of the Rock Island Corridor from Union Pacific Railroad. The railway on that property passes by the Truman sports complex.

“Beginning today Jackson County and our great partners with KCATA that are with us here today are looking and planning for the future growth and development of this community. So today I’m pleased to stand before you and announce a formal agreement between Jackson County and the Kansas City Area Transit Authority which will provide for the financing necessary for the purchase and acquisition of the Rock Island Corridor,” said Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders during a news conference Tuesday.

The almost 18 mile corridor will run from the Truman Sports Complex south to the farthest points in Lee's Summit.

County executives say they will use existing revenues to pay for this multi-modal, meaning a rail and trail, transportation system. No new levies nor taxes will be assessed, and the state has set aside $10 million to kick in.

Governor Nixon has also announced plans to extend the Katy Trail, which starts in St. Louis, from Windsor to Pleasant Hill, leaving just a small gap between the Katy Trail and the new Rock Island Corridor.

The economic impact of the Katy Trail is $20 million for those communities along the corridor, and Jackson County officials are hoping it will do the same for Kansas City, Independence, Raytown and Lee’s Summit.

"For economic development along the way, coffee shops, bicycle shops that are going to start up along the way. I mean it's going to make a huge difference in the economy, and just, it is going to be fun, it is just going to be fun,” said Debbie Jackson of Kansas City.

Although they have the money to buy the corridor, the group will still need to find financing in order to revitalize the rail system and develop the property.

Mayor Sly James says there is a long-term possibility of linking the new Rock Island Corridor with the streetcar project downtown, extending Kansas City's public transportation corridor.