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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Utility crews, barricades and detours are scattered from W. Pershing Road to 51st Street along Main Street in Kansas City. The crews are replacing old water and sewer mains as Phase One of what will eventually become an extended KC Streetcar.

Right now, the streetcar travels a little more than 2 miles. With these upgrades, it will be a 7-mile route and extend down to the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. 

The over $350 million project will be paid for by a federal grant, a 1% sales tax and property assessment taxes for people living in the benefit areas of the streetcar. 

“This really opens up the doors for how people have more access to jobs, education, activity, home, all of that. This is just the next iteration and how to build a better regional transit system,” said Donna Mandelbaum, communications director for the KC Streetcar Authority. 

The water and sewer main upgrades will replace aging infrastructure. 

“It’s really getting all the work done at one time,” said Jeff Martin, chief engineering officer with KC Water. “So not only is KC Water in there with our contractor doing replacements and upgrades, but many other utilities are in the corridor at the same time as us doing those upgrades, all anticipation of the streetcar work.” 

Adam Gilbert, a student at Kansas City Art Institute, frequently rides the streetcar. He said he’s excited about having more options soon.  

“I think it’s going to be really convenient, especially being from the college town area,” Gilbert said. “Having easy access without having to worry about the bus, just having multiple options.” 

Officials say this streetcar project is just the tip of the iceberg if Kansas City wants to compete with public transit in other cities. 

“This is a game changer for Kansas City, but we have still so much more to go,” Mandelbaum said. “There needs to be more investigation into east-west transit lines and how to better connect all of Kansas City, and not just in north-south line.” 

To stay up to date on what parts of Main Street are under construction, KC Water publishes a weekly newsletter with updates. They also highlight a local business on the construction route.