North Kansas City eying streetcar route expansion

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Construction for Kansas City's streetcar may be a few months behind schedule, but plans are already moving forward to expand it north of the river.

Crews were expected to break ground in March. City officials say work now won't begin until June or July, partly because financing couldn't be finalized until a pending lawsuit was settled.

A judge dismissed that suit a few weeks ago.

Now all eyes are on North Kansas City, where you can hear a constant sizzle during lunch at Clay's Curbside Grill. Business has done nothing but heat up since hotel chef Adam Clay followed his dream three years ago.

"Word of mouth is our only advertising," said his wife Jennifer.

The husband-wife duo behind the hot dog stand hit picked their curbside partly for the nearby bus stops.

"We've even served people from the other side of the world," Adam said.

And soon, a streetcar from the other side of the river could bring even more just a block from their door.

"A streetcar would be great." Adam said. "I don't see how it could hurt!"

"We know that they would come through North Kansas City and be a huge benefit to us," adds Matt Shatto, City Administrator for North Kansas City.

North Kansas City council members debated whether to approve funding for a $500,000 study expanding Kansas City's streetcar across the river, splitting the bill with Kansas City, Mo., Tuesday night.

Council members agreed to table the vote until April 16, saying they hope to get more feedback from the community before taking a vote.

Burlington is a likely route because it cuts through the heart of North Kansas City and also because it connects to the Heart of America bridge, the first bridge to be studied to see if it can handle a streetcar.

The current 2-mile streetcar route will start near Union Station and end in the River Market.

Now that the lawsuit has been dismissed, Kansas City can get things moving with plans to expand north which, so far, has seen no opposition.

"If people would take the streetcar to North Down to get a hot dog, I would support it. Would you?" Adam asked Jennifer. 

"Yes! I take it to Midtown!" she laughed. "See it would work both ways!"

Kansas City council members are set to approve their portion of the study funding Thursday. If all goes as planned, the study would include initial route designs and be complete by the end of the year.

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Syed Shabbir contributed to this report.

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