KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Department of Transportation has awarded the Mid-America Regional Council a $5,600,000 Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability & Equity (RAISE) Grant for the Bi-State Sustainable Reinvestment Corridor project.

It encompasses four cities, in two counties and two states. Getting everyone on the same page historically hasn’t been easy on both side of the state line. But now cooperation could help bring even more money and projects to the Metro.

Chris Miller spends 90 minutes every morning and another hour an a half at night riding multiple busses, for a trip to work that would take about 15 minutes by car.

“That’s very insane, a lot of your routes are hourly a lot of your routes are 15 and every half hour,” Miller said.

He’s used public transportation and light rail in other cities where he’s lived including Salt Lake City, Utah, Denver, Colorado, and Minneapolis-St Paul, Minnesota. Miller says Kansas City is by far the worst.

Metro planners have found we invest roughly half what other cities our size do on public transportation.

“In the KC-area we’ve invested a lot in the region’s highway system compared to our peer metro’s we haven’t invested as much in public transportation and that’s sort of becoming an issue for our continued growth and development,” MARC Director of Transportation and Environment Ron Achelpohl said.

That public transportation is even more difficult going east-west and trying to cross state lines, with current MAX bus lines running north/south.

MARC was just awarded that $5.6 million to study a 24-mile route from Sugar Creek and Independence, through Kansas City, Missouiri to Village West in Kansas City, Kansas. The Bi-State Sustainable Reinvestment Corridor includes Independence Avenue and Truman Road in Missouri and State Avenue and Quindaro Avenue in Kansas.

“This is an interesting corridor that connects a lot of activity centers downtown to Village West but there are also a lot of neighborhoods along the route that our historically disadvantaged from a transportation perspective,” Achelpohl said.

They’ll study routes and the best technology to use. MARC’s transportation director predicts it will be electric busses. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver says light rail might still be possible with billions in infrastructure grant money to be doled out. That is if the region can recover from decades of a state divide in what appears to be a new era of cooperation and planning.

“This frankly will help us catch up, this will give us a chance to look at where the best avenues exist for moving fast across the entire Metropolitan area and all the way to the airport,” Cleaver said.

The planning period is expected to take about 2.5 years. During that time they’ll also work on local matching funds they’d likely need for federal grant money to complete the project.

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