KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Growth comes at a cost, and sometimes, growing pains arrive too.
Work has begun on the Kansas City Streetcar Expansion, a 5-mile stretch that will connect Union Station with the UMKC campus. The $330 million infrastructure project will cover more than 30 city blocks and, along with the planned Northland expansion, will triple the ground covered by the streetcars.
For now, Main Street is a dizzying maze of orange cones, construction workers and clouds of dust.
It all stands for progress. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas toured the site on Monday as construction crews replaced aging water lines and prepared the area for new streetcar tracks.
Workers also unearthed pieces of the former streetcar service in that area, which hasn’t been in use since 1957. City crews paved over top of the old tracks decades ago.
Lucas mentioned that his office is getting calls complaining about that construction project, as well as others in the metro right now. The mayor said unhappy callers fuss that so many projects are making for too many traffic concerns.
“A lot of people have said – it’s not as easy to drive down main street as it was a few years ago,” Lucas told reporters. “What you’re seeing is Kansas City is becoming a better place to live.”
Construction is less than a year underway, but some businesses along the expansion run are already tired of this. Jeremiah Larkin, a manager at Midtown Market at 40th and Main, said his profits are suffering. Construction equipment sits all around his store, and it’s keeping customers from accessing his parking lot.
“A lot of people think you should just start a project and finish where you’re at instead of starting multiple projects and having it carried out multiple months at a time,” Larkin said.
Lucas mentioned some callers complain that construction crews seem to move on to unrelated tasks before finishing work they’ve begun.
A spokesperson for the Kansas City Streetcar Authority explained that its more efficient to finish work at one location before moving to the next – liking finishing all the work needed inside one hole before filling the hole with dirt or concrete.
The supermarket staff said deliveries take longer, and since business isn’t as robust, perishable items are sometimes going to waste. They say they’re searching for long-term solutions, since the new streetcar line won’t open until sometime in 2025, meaning there’s a lot more construction to go.