streetcar

HDR / City of Kansas City

Kansas City could get more information on when its new streetcars will be delivered as early as Tuesday.

Tom Gerend, executive director of the Streetcar Authority and City Engineer Ralph Davis are in Elmira, New York at facilities of CAF U.S.A on what would be a routine progress visit – except the first streetcar was due in June. All four were supposed to be delivered by this month.

The Streetcar Authority Board meets on Thursday and Davis and Gerund hope to be able to report on whether the streetcar line can open in time for the Big-12 tournament as planned.

Courtesy photo / KCATA

Four months into his new job as president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Joe Reardon has several things to brag about, and a few still on the to-do list.

The former mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, appreciates being able to focus on a single mission for a change.

“It's an exciting time, and the first four months have been great. We're singularly focused on connecting people ...  I'm loving every minute of it,” Reardon told Steve Kraske on Up To Date.

His charge is to connect multiple jurisdictions across the metro that have their own public transit system into a single, metro-wide system, under the brand, “Ride KC.”

“When we're out on a day-to-day basis, we don't pay attention to the jurisdictions. And this economy doesn't either, so were trying to develop a system that allows us to really answer to that call,” he said.

Willoughby Design, Inc.

The Kansas City streetcars could be very late arriving. And Mayor Sly James says that is becoming a “critical issue.”

City officials say they are having “very strong conversations” with CAF USA, the company building the streetcars after CAF USA notified the city that there could be a “significant delay” beyond the September delivery date for the first car. That date had already been moved back from June.

The city was hoping to have two cars tested and in operation for visitors to the Big 12 Tournament in March. 

HDR / City of Kansas City

Kansas City and Cincinnati are in it together. Their streetcars are being built by the same company as part of the same order – to be delivered next month – allowing both cities a year for required testing before initiating rider service in 2016.

But CAF USA, the company building the streetcars said earlier this month delivery could be late. Leading to speculation the grand opening schedules would have to be pushed back.

Kansas City officials had little to say except that they had put the pressure on CAF to deliver on time or close to it.

Cody Newill / KCUR

After a year of construction, crews have finally completed laying Kansas City's downtown streetcar tracks. 

More than 100 people showed up to the project's "River Market Rail Rally" Wednesday, which celebrated the streetcar's progress, as well as new artwork that will be showcased on two other stops in the River Market neighborhood near downtown.

Cody Newill / KCUR

For the mayor of Kansas City, life is not boring.

Fresh off a triumphant re-election campaign, Sly James is set to face a city council with nine new faces— something he says will be a challenge.

“It is difficult to integrate nine people onto a 12 person council,” James told Up To Date host Steve Kraske on Wednesday.

HDR, City of Kansas City

In less than a week, Kansas City, Missouri voters will go to the polls to decide on the makeup of their next City Council.

One of the most closely-competitive races is for the the Northland's 2nd District At-large seat now held by Ed Ford, who is not seeking re-election because of term limits.

Running for the 2nd District seat is Teresa Loar, former two-term City Council member and two-term member of the North Kansas City School Board, who says she has lived in the northland for almost 50 years.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

The Kansas City, Missouri, City Council elections are fast approaching, and several of the races look to be closely contested.

One of those is in the 4th district, where former Jackson County Executive Katheryn Shields is giving incumbent Jim Glover a spirited run.

Both Shields and Glover joined Up To Date host Steve Kraske at the KCUR studios to discuss some of the city's most pressing issues.

Cody Newill / KCUR

Kansas City's downtown streetcar line is on schedule for its tracks to be fully laid out by mid-summer, according to streetcar officials.

KC Streetcar spokeswoman Donna Mandelbaum says that construction is coming to a head just under a year after the city officially broke ground on the project.

"This summer we'll see the completion of track construction, we'll be finished up on the electrical systems and our station stop construction," Mandelbaum said. "We really are in the home stretch now."

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

Kansas City Council has approved a $15 million agreement with San Francisco based Cisco Systems Inc., to turn a two mile stretch of the streetcar line into a "Smart City" network. 

The project calls for the creation of interactive digital kiosks that share information about events and city services with pedestrians.

Data about infrastructure and traffic will be detected by sensors and sent back to the city in real time.

HDR / City of Kansas City

In just over two months, Kansas Citians will take to the polls to elect 12 council members that will lead the city for the next four years.

Due to term-limits, half of the seats held by incumbents will be wide open, which means that if Mayor Sly James is re-elected, which looks likely, he will have a council very different from the one he enjoyed his first four years.

Patrick Quick / KCUR

Kansas City’s downtown is like an adolescent going through an awkward phase.

It’s part of growing up, and we’re excited about where things are headed, but the process is at turns uncomfortable and confusing.

File the parking situation  under “uncomfortable.” That was the basis for Thursday’s conversation on Central Standard.

The Kansas City, Mo., city council votes Thursday afternoon on on ordinance that would keep a reserve fund for streetcar system expansion planning. 

It is part of plans for spending more than $8 million left over from the $10 million it borrowed to jump-start a streetcar system expansion that voters rejected.

The ordinance would devote most of the unspent bond money to already planned projects including a community center tornado shelter and Bartle Hall roof repairs.

Rethinking How To Assess Public Transit Needs

Oct 14, 2014
Ian Fisher / Flickr Creative Commons

Gridlock on the freeway, orange construction cones everywhere, and congestion. Traffic problems abound and cities are scrambling to improve their public transportation. On this edition of Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with Jarrett Walker, a public transit consultant, about how cities assess their transportation needs. Mr. Walker discusses the importance of improving existing infrastructure and building on it, as well as highlighting the difficulties posed by a sprawling metro area. 

Guest:

The bills are totaled up on what the city of Kansas City, Mo., spent on the voter-rejected Phase 2 of the downtown streetcar system. 

The city council approved contracts with two engineering firms, HDR and Burns and McDonnell, for route planning, studies of construction obstacles and communication with the public.

In total, the two contracts came to about $8.1 million.

Streetcar Project Director Ralph Davis says spending stopped with the defeat of the streetcar expansion at the polls.

Kansas City Streetcar Authority

The Kansas City Streetcar Authority has released the name and branding for the city's new downtown streetcar line.

Created by Willoughby Design, Inc., the package approved by the Authority on Thursday includes a name, icon, color palette and other branding elements.

The transit system's now-official name — KC Streetcar — is "simple, intuitive and universal, giving Kansas City a place among the best transit systems in the world, ” says Tom Trabon, chair of the Streetcar Authority Board.

HDR / City of Kansas City

Not long after Kansas City's proposal to add street car lines along Independence Avenue and Linwood Boulevard went down to defeat in Tuesday’s election, Kansas City Mayor Sly James was in front of microphones expressing his disappointment.

The mayor reiterated those concerns the morning after the election. “Things are not going to get better unless we do something different,” he said in an interview with KCUR.

Rama / Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday's voting results provided some interesting outcomes. A relatively-unknown challenger gave incumbent Sam Brownback a run for his money. The proposed expansion of the Kansas City streetcar tax district supported by Mayor Sly James was voted down.

Today on Up To Date, Steve Kraske talks with with Political Pundits Burdett Loomis and Dave Helling to divine the messages voters were sending about the candidates and issues on state and local ballots.  Then Mayor James joins Steve for his thoughts on the future of the streetcar in Kansas City.

Guests:

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Kansas City, Mo., voters south of the river said no Tuesday to a plan that would have created a new taxing district to expand the city's streetcar line.

Only 40 percent of voters supported a plan that would have laid eight more miles of track to the east of the downtown starter line and added new bus service along Prospect.

"I think the public has spoken fairly distinctly," Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James told streetcar supporters Tuesday evening. "The loss tonight stings a little bit, but then again, this isn't the first time rail has lost in this city."

NextRailKC

A measure on the Aug. 5 ballot for Kansas City residents living south of the Missouri River will help decide if the downtown streetcar will expand beyond its current line.

Kansas City Question A seeks to create a larger transportation development district that would allow Kansas Citians the chance to vote for streetcar and bus expansion taxes in the November election. 

The proposed district is bounded north by the river, west by State Line Road, east by I-435, and south by the University of Missouri - Kansas City.

Ballot language:

MODOT

Voters will be asked on the Aug. 5 Missouri ballot if they want to increase the statewide sales tax by ¾ of a cent for 10 years. The money will be used to improve statewide transit infrastructure including roads and highways, bridges and public transit projects. The money raised will not be allowed to be used on any other kinds of projects.

Ballot language:

401(K) 2012/Flickr-CC

Election season has kicked off, and we’re gearing up to a flurry of primaries throughout the area. Today, we’re taking a look at the ballots in Kansas City, Mo., and the state of Missouri.

On Monday's Up to Date, we discuss the streetcar proposal that’s found its way into the voting booth. Voters will decide whether they want to expand the taxing district east and south, and as a result, expand the proposed streetcar lines.

Video frame courtesy of TV-9

Kansas City transit advocate Clay Chastain is in town this week to promote his light-rail proposal ahead of hearing that could put the issue before voters.

Chastain, a former Kansas City resident who now lives in Virginia, has for years pressured the city to build an interconnected transit system with a hub at Union Station. His idea has a lot of moving parts – light rail line to the airport, commuter rail to the southeast and streetcars to the Kansas City Zoo. And in 2011, he gathered enough signatures to put a 3/8-cent sales tax on the ballot to help pay for it.

Freshly returned from Thursday's ground breaking for phase one of the streetcar system, the Kansas City city council committed $8 million to getting started on phase two.

Two area firms – HDR Engineering and Burns and McDonnell – were chosen to plan southward and eastward extensions of the streetcar line.

Submitted photo / City of Kansas City, Mo.

There will be no gold-plated shovels at Thursday's groundbreaking ceremony for the  streetcar in downtown Kansas City, Mo. – that's a promise.

"We wanted to do something different because the streetcar is a game-changer for Kansas City," says city spokesman Chris Hernandez.

Thursday is set to mark the start of major construction on the downtown starter line, the first phase in the city's multi-year streetcar initiative.

Eight hundred tons of streetcar rail – 50 truckloads – will be delivered to Kansas City next week, marking the end of bargaining and a final negotiated maximum price for the project: $102 million.

City engineering service manager Ralph Davis assured the city council Thursday that they're getting a good deal. Davis said the city has worked through a "value engineering" process to eliminate unnecessary costs, and in doing so saved about $5 million. He said city representatives had also negotiated down the contractors' fees and charges. 

City of Kansas City, Mo.

The Kansas City city council was in an infrastructure-improving mood Thursday — some of its very old infrastructure.  The city council took several steps toward replacing crumbling sewer and water lines.

The full council gave its approval to rehabilitation of sewer lines around 22nd and Paseo. Infrastructure chair Russ Johnson emphasized how old they were.

"That was constructed in 1890," he said. "It's time to rehab it.”

The other council members agreed, and approved spending $1.48 million in existing bond money to do the job.

City of Kansas City, Missouri

Phase two of Kansas City's streetcar system moved ahead again Thursday, but it won't be rolling through Brookside.

The city council approved a streetcar system expansion of about 8 miles – a south extension along main to the UMKC area, east on Independence Avenue to Benton and east on Linwood to Prospect. A proposal for the southward extension to run to Brookside or Waldo was set aside because it was too expensive for projected revenue.

News broke this week of a major development in the ongoing conversation about Kansas City’s plans for extending the planned streetcar line. The committee finalizing the plan announced it will not recommend extending the tracks south of the UMKC campus.

Now the expansion will go south only to UMKC and east along Linwood and Independence Avenues.

City of Kansas City, Missouri

An ambitious expansion of the Kansas City streetcar system has gotten approval from a City Council Committee.

The plan is for a taxing district that covers a wide swath south of downtown.

A variety of possible extensions of the system branch east and south from the starter line.

Supporters are in a hurry to move the system past its current fledgling movement.

Council members were told the tax district would provide local funding as seed for federal grants, necessary for expansion.

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