Voters say no to streetcar expansion, city says yes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Voters brought Kansas City's streetcar expansion to a screeching halt Tuesday night.
     
But by Wednesday, city hall said it already has plans to move another streetcar line ahead.

The first phase, worth $200 million, is already being built from the River Market to Union Station.
       
On Tuesday, the proposal to voters included a special taxing district to fund the streetcar beyond downtown; the $450 million proposal failed by a 20 percent margin.

Still, Mayor Sly James said the city will find another way to expand the line.

"Now we'll get to work on re-envisioning how we can prudently expand economic development related to transit while we continue our good work on education, enforcement, employment and efficiency," James said.

The city has long said streetcars drive business. It attributes $900 million of new downtown business to the new streetcar line.

"We have about $900 million in projects in the downtown area right now since the starter line was first approved by the voters,” Chris Hernandez, the KCMO Director of Communications, said.

But one voter said she believed the cost was too large for a small group of citizens in a taxing district to afford.

"I just looked at some of the other cities where this was done and they're in terrible debt,” Terri Cox said.

The city believes voters rejecting the streetcar lines doesn’t lessen Kansas City’s need for a genuine mass transit system.

"The conversation will go on," Hernandez said.

City officials said the first phase of the streetcar line is on budget and is slated get rolling in late 2015.

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