Downtown voters approve proposed streetcar line funding

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A small group of Kansas City voters approved a measure to fund a proposed downtown streetcar line.

The $100 million plan will connect a two-mile stretch between Union Station and the River Market. Voters who live in the transportation development district along the proposed line were the only ones eligible to cast a ballot on whether to approve funding the plan. Only 700 voters registered in time, and 551 ballots ballots were counted Wednesday.

There were two questions on the ballot. The first was to approve a one-cent sales tax increase to be collected within the downtown streetcar district boundaries for the next 25 years. It passed 351-198.

The second question was to approve a special assessment of up to 48 cents per $100 of assessed value on commercial properties and up to 70 cents per $100 of assessed value on residential properties, along with assessments on city-owned property and a special assessment on service pay parking lots. That passed 344-206.

According to Douglas Stone, the attorney representing the transportation development district, the plan could not have moved forward if voters hadn't approved both questions.

Downtown resident David Johnson said the city needs a streetcar line.

"I challenge Kansas Citians to walk two miles tomorrow and tell me two miles isn't a long way," he said. "I walk every day in the rain, snow and sleet."

Mayor Sly James said the impact of the line will go far beyond the two-mile stretch downtown.

"It should help the renaissance of Kansas City," he told supporters Wednesday. "The first leg will certainly have an impact on downtown, but the object isn't just to help downtown, the object is to ultimately connect up through the varying and altering routes to this entire city."

The project should be complete by 2015, according to Kansas City council members. It will be free to ride.

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