Kansas City Regional Rail Outlook Brightens With Union Pacific Accord

Feb 25, 2014

Prospects for a regional rail system east of Kansas City got brighter Monday. Jackson County now has an understanding with Union Pacific to buy three abandoned rail lines.

Longest unused rail line runs through heart of Near-East Kansas City suburbs.
Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders has liked regional rail because it’s far cheaper than the light variety of rail transit. Tracks exist and rolling stock is plentiful.

The cost is $60 million.

“We’ve got an option agreement at no cost to taxpayers and no risk to the taxpayers, we have an option agreement to purchase these rail corridors should we decide to do it,” said Sanders.

Financing is the biggest hurdle. The problem of running a commuter rail line into the heart of Kansas City remains.

Sanders said he’s been told by Congressman Emanuel Cleaver’s office there is a good chance for federal grants to buy the lines, including the rock island segment that ran from near I-435 and  Highway 40 to  Southeast Lee's Summit.   

There is no timetable for a purchase.