8:09 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Kansas City Streetcar Expansion Hopes Still Alive

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.

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Up To Date
1:41 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Rethinking How To Assess Public Transit Needs

Credit 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. 


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5:41 am
Fri October 3, 2014

Kansas City Spent $1.1 Million On Thwarted Streetcar Expansion

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.

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Arts & Culture
2:42 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Kansas City Streetcar System Now Officially Named ... KC Streetcar

Willoughby Design's KC Streetcar logo without text.
Credit 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.

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5:20 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Mayor Says Streetcar Defeat Bad For Job Seekers

Credit 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.

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Up to Date
4:43 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Political Pundits: What Election Results Mean For Area Residents And Politicians

Credit Wikimedia Commons, user: Rama

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.


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10:43 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Kansas City Voters Reject Streetcar Expansion Proposal

Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James, right, thanked Councilman Jim Glover and other city officials for their support during the streetcar campaign. Voters rejected an expansion proposal Tuesday.
Credit 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."

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Election 2014
2:41 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Voter Guide To Kansas City Question A

This map shows the proposed transportation development district expansion and extended streetcar and bus lines that voters will make a decision on in the Aug. 5 primary election.
Credit 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:

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Election 2014
1:53 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Voter Guide To The Proposed Missouri Transit Tax Increase

Amendment 7 would provide millions of dollars for transportation projects statewide.
Credit 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:

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Up To Date
9:00 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Examining Tax Proposals In Missouri

Several tax proposals are stirring discussion among Missouri voters.
Credit 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.

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7:36 am
Mon June 9, 2014

Judge To Review Challenged Light-Rail Ballot Initiative This Week

Clay Chastain, a former Kansas City resident, has taken the city to court after his 2011 plan for light rail never made it on the ballot.
Credit 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.

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7:58 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Kansas City Council Approves $8 Million In Phase II Streetcar Planning Contracts

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.

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4:13 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Why Thursday's Streetcar Groundbreaking Is The Real Thing

Construction begins this summer on the streetcar starter line in downtown Kansas City, Mo., shown here in this mock-up.
Credit 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.

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5:43 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Kansas City Council Gets Final Streetcar Line Price

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. 

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8:08 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Kansas City Council Moves To Replace 19th Century Sewer Pipe

Sewer pipe dated 1874 was recently dug up near the Kansas City, Mo., City Hall.
Credit 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.

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7:51 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Council Approves Streetcar Phase II With No Brookside Extension

Credit 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.

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Central Standard
4:00 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Kansas City Streetcar Plan Calls For Termination At UMKC

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.

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7:19 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Kansas City Streetcar Expansion Will Likely Be Up To Voters

The decision to expand the streetcar further may go to voters.
Credit 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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2:59 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

Kansas City Announces $100K For Art At Streetcar Stops

This streetcar stop in Portland, Ore. features public art.
Credit brx0 / Flickr--CC

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.

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Central Standard
10:40 am
Fri November 22, 2013

The History Of The Kansas City Streetcar

Credit ChrisM70 / Flickr -- Creative Commons

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.

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6:25 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Streetcar Expansion Routes Narrowed, Studies Continue

The Kansas City, Mo., city council has approved a report that supports adding another eight to 10 miles of streetcar track to its 2.2 mile starter system over the next decade. 

Favored routes are eastward branches along Independence Avenue and the Linwood-31st Street corridor and a southern extension as far as Brookside or Waldo.

Members of the study group say federal grants should fund 50 percent of the cost.

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Up to Date
10:13 am
Wed November 20, 2013

Downtown Kansas City Streetcar Project: What's Next?

Kansas City's downtown streetcar line will run from the River Market to Crown Center.
Credit City of Kansas City, Missouri

Construction has already begun on the first leg of Kansas City’s streetcar system. The two mile line will run between the River Market area and Crown Center.

Now officials are looking at potential routes for a second leg and beyond. Where should the second leg go? Is it inevitable that route No. 2 will extend to the Plaza and maybe UMKC?

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1:16 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

WATCH: Welders Begin Work On Kansas City's Streetcar Line

Workers began laying track in the Crossroads district of Kansas City.
Credit Streetcar Neighbors / Facebook page

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.

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7:34 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Kansas City Streetcar Phase II: East, South Or Both?

Artist's rendering of proposed Main Street streetcar line
Credit Submitted photo / City of Kansas City, Mo.

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.

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6:36 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Kansas City Council Approves $17.9 Million Streetcar Purchase

Kansas City will purchase four streetcars like the ones pictured for $17.9 million.
Credit City of Kansas City, Missouri

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.”

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7:22 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Kansas City Streetcar Plan Moving Forward

Established streetcar line in Portland, Ore.
Credit Portland TriMetro

It will cost about $1 million per mile to lay groundwork for a Kansas City streetcar line, and the city is moving forward on expanding a startup. The original has yet to be built. 

The City Council may decide before the week ends whether to borrow $10 million to start moving on phase-two of the streetcar system.

The city would borrow for engineering work to get what may be a $400 million added streetcar line.

Next week planners should be able to give recommendations on where the eight to 10 mile stretch would go.

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12:33 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Out Of Town Firms Prevail For Streetcar Construction Management

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.

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1:17 am
Fri September 6, 2013

Streetcar Contract Heads For Final Vote


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.

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2:36 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

$20 Million Grant Announced For Kansas City Streetcar

U.S. Senator from Missouri, Claire McCaskill, announced Friday that Kansas City will receive a $20 million TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the streetcar project.

In a release, McCaskill said it is fantastic news for families and businesses in Kansas City.

"This streetcar project will encourage housing, construction and business development in the city — and that will mean more jobs across the region," she said.

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5:25 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

KC Streetcar 2 Is Planned As First Phase Lumbers Along

Credit MARC

It’s not clear by how much expanded Kansas City streetcar lines would  boost property values. A team of city planners and private analysts expects to know by late October. 

The panel is trying to narrow potential streetcar corridors from 7 to 3.

A committee of the City Council heard how blighted areas of Seattle sprung up new growth when a streetcar went in. 

The second phase of Kansas City’s planned streetcar system is being generated, even as phase one is in infancy.  

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