Kansas City $20 million closer to building downtown streetcar

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City is $20 million closer to building a new downtown streetcar line.

During an announcement at Union Station Friday, transportation leaders from Washington described why Kansas City was chosen for the TIGER grant.

The Kansas City high-speed downtown streetcar is one of only 52 projects chosen for this grant money. The federal government received 575 requests nationwide. Kansas City is also receiving the most money -- $20 million.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James said the grant could really shift the burden from taxpayers and downtown business owners, who are expected to foot the bill for the project.

"The streetcar authority, which was put together to operate this system, will make the final decision of how the money will be used. And I hope and believe this will be relief for those people who are footing the bill," James said.

Anthony Foxx, the United States Secretary of Transportation, was in Kansas City for the announcement. He said the project was chosen because it will have a positive impact on the community for years to come.

"Projects like this help build communities, helps protect the environment and move communities forward right here in Kansas City," Foxx explained.

The grant will help fund a 2-mile, high-speed rail connecting the River Market to Union Station downtown.

Some downtown business owners were furious about the project, saying it would cost them too much.

When the downtown streetcar is complete in 2015, it will be free to ride.

In the long-term future, the city hopes to expand the rail to transport passengers to Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadiums, the Plaza and communities in every direction of downtown.

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