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.
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.
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.
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.
The city of Kansas City, Mo., will commission $100,000 of public art for the first phase of the streetcar line, and has announced a request for proposals.
In a release Friday, the city said it is looking for professional artists or artist-led teams to create proposals for art projects to be displayed at selected streetcar stops. The release says while all proposals will be considered, the city is looking for ideas that integrate the artwork into the infrastructure of the stops.
Kansas City, Mo., is well on its way to building a downtown streetcar line. In the works is a two-mile project from River Market to Union Station, and it's likely there will be more miles of track extending further into the city.
Kansas City once had more than 300 miles of streetcar track, one of the largest systems in America, but the city tore up the tracks or, in some cases, paved over it.
Kansas City, Mo. resident David Johnson on Tuesday posted a video that he believes is the first weld of the city's new streetcar tracks. The video was taken just north of 16th and Main streets in the Crossroads.
The streetcar will eventually run down Main Street from Union Station to the River Market when it is completed, which is expected by mid-2015.
Plans for Phase II of a streetcar system roll on. And though where the second stretch of track will be laid is not decided yet, the choices are narrowing.
The report the city council heard Thursday recommends one or more extensions of streetcar line, with the highest scores for routes south on Main to 51st Street, east on Linwood or 31st Street for several miles and/or east on Independence Avenue to Benton. Those selections rated highest on a combination of factors including potential economic development.
The Kansas City councilman who has steered the city's streetcar project from its start says Thursday was probably the most significant mile post in the process. The city is ready to sign the contract for four streetcars.
Councilman Russ Johnson says the council's approval of the $17.9 million contract was the true “point of no return,” the day that the plan changed from a dream to a project underway.
“This is where you're really getting serious about building this project," Johnson told his colleagues. "We're going to go 'box it out' and buy something.”
To the disappointment of some contractors' and labor organizations, two out-of-town firms will manage the construction of Kansas City's downtown streetcar line. The battle was over the process.
It wasn't the usual process of lowest price for the most product. Construction management was awarded on a point system with heavy weighting for experience with similar work. And when the two out-of-town companies won, outcries began.
The controversy over what contractors will supervise the construction of Kansas City's downtown streetcar line isn't over yet, but the city council has moved one step closer to choosing two out-of-town companies.
Plans to sign a construction management contract with two out-of-town firms have been on hold for several weeks after local contractors and building trades unions expressed concern that there wouldn't be enough Kansas City companies and workers on the job.
A city council committee continues to delve into how to finance the Area Transit Authority yesterday.
Most of this week's ATA funding committee meeting was spent speculating on the size of the funding shortfall as a streetcar system and other expenses bite into transit tax revenues that may or may not increase.
A court challenge to phase one of the Kansas City's streetcar plan didn't slow the train yesterday as the city council approved a contract for a study of phase two.
The study compare seven different possible routes. Transit chair Russ Johnson says the nearly $1,900,000 price tag is a bargain for such a thorough study. Johnson joked, "It's not the 'Happy Meal'. It's 4 or 5 'Quarter Pounders'," which prompted chuckles from his colleagues.