Congressman Cleaver says proposed streetcar to stadiums should be about jobs not tourism

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The KC Streetcar’s executive director says an east-west connector through the Kansas City metro has been discussed for years.

But passage of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill expedited the need for a study of a possible streetcar line running from the University of Kansas Health System to the stadiums at the Truman Sports Complex.

The city wants to have a plan in place to request federal funding.

A request for proposals for consultants to conduct that study was announced over the weekend focusing on a few key questions.

“Where do we have demand for transit trips, where do we have opportunities for economic development and where do we have community needs that may be unique to individual neighborhoods,” Tom Gerend, KC Streetcar executive director, said.

Business owners in the 39th Street corridor near the state line Tuesday seemed excited by the idea.

“If its going to save on some gas, some money why wouldn’t you (ride the proposed line)?” Pedro Esteban, a barber at Nobleman Barber Lounge, said.

“The idea of bringing it east-west I think it helps a lot of people who don’t drive and the potential tourism commerce that comes with that,” David Bandy, Tiki Taco general manager, said.

But Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, who will help direct an anticipated $674 million to Missouri over the next five years to improve public transportation, wants a system that also works for the city’s east side and its neighborhoods, not just passing them by on the way to the stadiums.

“It can’t be touristy-frou frou. If we’re going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, I want people who desperately need jobs to take this system and go and get these jobs,” Cleaver said.

Cleaver’s priorities center around an all electric fleet for KCATA and area school busses.

The comprehensive study to connect Kansas City’s east and west neighborhoods with high-capacity transit is expected to take a year and cost about $250,000.

A price tag or timeline hasn’t been established for construction. An expansion of the current system will break ground in 2022 at a price tag of $330 million.

The initial phase of the streetcar took five years for design and construction.

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