KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Utility workers could dig up more than dirt and rock as they make way for one of Kansas City’s largest coming infrastructure projects.
Along Main Street, they’re likely to unearth remnants of the city’s original streetcar system — a robust network spanning both sides of the state line before being shut down in the 1950s. The debris will serve as a reminder of a time when Midtown bustled with residents and small businesses, thanks to ready connections to the rest of the city.
But peeling back Midtown’s history is necessary to make way for a return to vibrancy along a planned 3.5-mile extension of Kansas City’s streetcar.
Although transit officials expect to get a larger commitment of federal funding by spring, they already have spent years of effort on engineering and design. Interviews with developers and brokers, as well as a review of property transactions, make clear that many millions of dollars’ worth of preparation already have been deployed for a commercial and residential revival.
“This represents a significant and monumental phase in the building out of our regional transit system and has long been sought by the neighborhoods on Main Street,” said Tom Gerend, executive director of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority Inc. “It really is part of the vision that the community has had for itself.”