KC Streetcar may get federal funds for planned southern extension

Posted at 8:34 AM, Jan 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-10 10:22:20-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A recent decision in Washington D.C. has set Kansas City up with a shot to receive federal dollars to pay for a streetcar extension. The Kansas City Streetcar Authority plans to expand the streetcar south along Main Street beyond its southern terminus at Union Station.

Once complete, riders could travel by streetcar from the River Market to the UMKC campus.

Last week, the Federal Transit Authority gave the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, the Kansas City Streetcar Authority and city of Kansas City approval to move into the next phase of developing the expansion.

The approval means the Streetcar Authority can apply for federal funds to pay for the extension. The agency's executive director told City Scene KC the Streetcar Authority could apply for roughly $100 million toward the project. 

It's unclear how using federal money would impact an ordinance voters approved in August prohibiting Kansas City from spending city money on streetcar expansion without city-wide approval.

“An extension of the KC Streetcar south is an important part of the region’s plan for improved service and we’re looking forward to making it a reality,” said Robbie Makinen, KCATA president & CEO, in a statement. 

Streetcar partners will now begin the "project development" phase of the extension. That includes narrowing down the construction and operating costs, developing a plan to pay those costs, estimating ridership, and evaluating environmental concerns.  

"While it is not a commitment of federal funds, it is the U.S. Department of Transportation’s recognition of the streetcar extension project and it places Kansas City’s streetcar extension on their list of projects that could be considered for future funding,” said a statement from Richard Jarrold, KCATA’s Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning and Economic Development. 

The southern extension is still several years from completion. Currently, the streetcar runs from the River Market to Union Station. It is free to ride.