KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Thanks to voters, Kansas City's streetcar is about to be a rapidly growing transit system.
“We just celebrated our second birthday, and we have over four million rides within those two years,” said Donna Mandelbaum, communications director for the KC Streetcar Authority.
The streetcar authority wants to extend the current route to attract more riders.
“Right now we have a downtown streetcar line that goes from River Market to Union Station. The Main Street extension would go from Union Station to roughly the UMKC area at 51st, Main Street, Brookside area,” Mandelbaum said.
On Wednesday, that dream of expanding the streetcar got a major push forward with the announcement of voter-approved funding for the project.
In a mail-in election, voters within the streetcar line Transportation Development District approved a 1-percent sales tax increase as well as a special property tax assessment to help fund the extension.
“That gives us the local funding and support that we need for this project,” Mandelbaum said.
The $250 million extension project would extend the streetcar line by nearly 2 miles, adding eight additional stops and several additional cars.
“We are in the project development phase for this extension and trying to package up this project to apply for federal funding. This is just one step in a multi-step process. We’ve still got a long way to go as far as design, construction and funding for this project,” Mandelbaum said.
Some who live and work in the area of the proposed expansion are looking forward to having easier access around town.
“I think that would be absolutely fantastic. It would be really convenient,” UMKC student Shannon Gundy said.
Gundy lives downtown but goes to school at UMKC. This extension would make her daily commute much easier.
“I moved here from the city, so I don’t drive, and it would just be really nice to be able to get on it and go all the way,” Gundy said.
Some say this project makes a bold statement about KC.
“It definitely speaks a lot about Kansas City's status as an up-and-coming city for sure,” Gundy said.
The streetcar authority is also working on a Riverfront extension that would take the streetcar from the City Market at 3rd and Grand over to Berkley Park.
A KC Streetcar Authority project committee will publish a report with recommendations for stops and costs later this summer.