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KCATA submits application for potential rail system between Topeka, Independence

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Posted at 4:42 PM, May 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-18 17:42:15-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority announced Thursday it has submitted a grant proposal to study an intercity rail system for a 15-county region around Kansas City.

Officials hope the submission for a Corridor Identification and Development Grant would help to define the passenger rail system as stretching from Topeka on the west, Independence on the east, Kansas City International Airport on the north and south to cities like Olathe and Lee’s Summit.

The Truman Sports Complex, which currently is home for Kauffman Stadium and GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium, was cited as part of the corridor.

There was no time frame on what’s next following the submission of the proposal to the Federal Railroad Administration.

The submission to the FRA’s Corridor ID program helps local, state and federal officials better plan how to support long-term investments in the country’s passenger rail system.

“We’re thrilled to take a lead in making an intercity rail system a reality for the Kansas City metro and our bi-state communities” KCATA president and CEO Frank White III said in a press release Thursday. “A passenger rail system would not only create convenience and better accessibility for so many residents in the area, but it would also provide environmental benefits by reducing energy consumption and emissions with less cars on the road.”

Thursday’s release did not indicate any cost estimates or when such a project might start to come on-line for passenger service if it is approved.

While such a system is unlikely ahead of the 2026 World Cup, of which Kansas City is a host city, the international soccer competition has forced regional transportation leaders to reevaluate future transit needs.

Earlier this year, Ride KC and the Mid-America Regional Council issued a request for proposals to design a multi-modal transportation system to take people from the new single terminal at KCI south to transportation hubs around downtown Kansas City, Missouri.

Within Kansas City, Missouri, officials are set to open a 3.5-mile extension of the Kansas City Streetcar between Union Station and the University of Missouri - Kansas City by 2025.

Officials on the Kansas side of the state line, lead by the University of Kansas Health System, are exploring more robust transportation options along an east-west line from the system’s campus in Kansas City, Kansas, east into KCMO.