INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority wants to see a passenger rail system go from Topeka, Kansas, in the west all the way to Independence, Missouri, in the east.
That’s not all though.
According to a release Thursday, the agency would like a system to go from the Kansas City International Airport in the north to cities like Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and Olathe, Kansas, in the south.
On Thursday, the KCATA announced it had applied for a grant for this proposal through the Federal Railroad Administration.
Frank White III, CEO of KCATA, said the $500,000 federal grant would cover the entire cost of the study, and it would not require a local match.
White said if the agency gets the grant, it would take at least a year to study the proposal, if not longer.
The KCATA leader said the project isn’t tied to the 2026 World Cup and wouldn’t be finished by then, but his agency does want to use the momentum of having the world’s eyes on Kansas City as leverage.
“How do we — with these next four years with the world looking at Kansas City, Missouri — how do we leverage that interest, leverage those things from Super Bowls to NFL Drafts to World Cups and really use that as a way to be a jumping off point?” he said.
It’s an intriguing idea that White admits will require a lot of support from other local leaders, including Independence Mayor Rory Rowland.
“I like the idea of a light rail system that can get people from those locations back and forth,” Rowland told FOX4 Friday.
“Obviously that’s a philosophical like. Realistically, the devils in the details to see what it would cost, what would our contribution be, all those kinds of things. Those are big factors in making it.”
Rowland had not heard of the KCATA’s announcement until FOX4 told him about it. A spokeswoman for the KC Streetcar also said they were unaware of the announcement before it was made. The KC Streetcar and KCATA are two separate entities.
The KCATA didn’t say how much the overall project would cost or lay out a full timeline. But White said they’re waiting at any moment to find out if they got the grant and can study the idea.
“Absolutely,” Rowland replied when asked if this project would be off the table if the KCATA doesn’t get the grant money. “I don’t think there’s any way that it would work if you don’t get federal funding on something like that.”
As mayor, Rowland is one of seven city council votes. He has not spoken to the other six about how they feel about this potential project.