The Kansas City streetcar’s 3.5-mile southern extension to the Country Club Plaza and University of Missouri-Kansas City has started to heat up, with multiple milestones on the horizon in the year ahead.

Crews with KC Streetcar Constructors recently started two to three weeks of welding the southern route’s remaining track, combining six 80-foot rail sticks into 480-foot rail strings at Brookside Boulevard, between 49th and 51st streets. A total 429 rail sticks, together about 657 tons, were delivered 49th and Brookside over the last few weeks.

Workers have used a technique called electric flash-butt welding, heating the ends of two rail sticks to approximately 2,800 degrees and pressing them together. The method is meant to maximize the project’s schedule efficiency by minimizing the number of welds needed in the field, KC Streetcar Constructors said in a Wednesday release.

The construction activity comes roughly a year after nearly 700 tons of streetcar rail was delivered near Crown Center, and two years after the Federal Transit Administration and Kansas City executed a $174.1 million grant agreement for its southern extension.

To date, the streetcar extension’s construction is more than 25% complete, amounting to over $88 million of the project’s $351.7 million budget spent to date, said Tom Gerend, the Kansas City Streetcar Authority’s executive director.

Read more in the Kansas City Business Journal.