Vote expected this year to expand KC streetcar district

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - When it's up and running in the summer of 2015, Kansas City's downtown streetcar will be a two-mile, north-to-south route with 18 stops. Even though the construction has not yet started, plans for an expanded transportation development district is already underway.

Caleb-Michael Files is a student at UMKC. He addresses council members sharing his support for the street car expansion.

"Our campus has less space for cars then there are drivers. And this is just a great chance for economic development along the lines. I see this as a great thing for Midtown, putting a streetcar along Main Street says, 'Yes, we're committed to this part of the community and what we can do to attract businesses there,'" Files said.

The proposed new transportation development district would run from State Line to I-435 and from the Missouri River generally to 85th Street. The plan would require two elections.

If voters living within the new boundaries approve the district's creation in an August election and approve specific tax increases in a November election, that would set the stage for federal funding that would make the expanded streetcar system a reality.

"Without federal funding, we would not be able to do any of this," Council Member Russ Johnson said.

Streetcar supporters would seek voter approval for a one-cent sales tax increase within the new district, plus special property taxes for properties generally within about a half-mile along the actual streetcar lines.

The full council will vote on the resolution on January 23.

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