KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Streetcar Authority hosted an open house Wednesday evening ahead of a groundbreaking planned next week on a $351 million extension of the line.

Phil Thomas uses the 2.2 miles of the existing streetcar line the way many people do between Union Station and River Market.

“Lets take the streetcar see the city real quick and then get back to our cars,” Thomas said.

But now he’s in the market for a condo in the Westport area along the 3.5 mile Main Street Extension which will break ground Wednesday April 6 at 11 a.m.

“Now the streetcar will go along the line of life, along the line of culture, more shops and things that are everyday useful,” Thomas said.

KC Streetcar Authority only expects the area between Union Station and UMKC along Main Street to improve as the streetcar goes in.

KC Streetcar Authority Communications Director Donna Mandelbaum said the downtown corridor saw $4 billion in associated development. The extension has seen $500 million in the past year, despite Main Street being torn up for sewer and utility improvements.

Construction on the track and eight new stops will be done in segments north to south for the next 2.5 years.

“It’s still going to be a headache for traffic flow but we are going to do everything we can to work with our midtown businesses and our main street business and residents to make sure this is as smooth as we can possibly make it,” Mandelbaum said.

Streetcar rider James Bibens said it still has a long way to go before anyone compares it to the New York City Subway or Chicago El, but calls the new line a good start.

“I think it moves it closer to being a really practical form of transportation,” he said.