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Kansas City Streetcar Maintenance Facility Almost Finished, Wires Go 'Hot' Soon

Cody Newill
The nearly completed E. Crichton "Kite" Singleton Yard now houses KC Streetcar Authority personnel and will soon be the hub of maintenance for the streetcar vehicles.

The KC Streetcar Authority has almost completed its streetcar vehicle maintenance facility and will soon turn on power to streetcar cables to begin testing the line.

The facility, named after longtime transit advocate E. Crichton "Kite" Singleton, sits at 3rd Street and Holmes. Streetcar maintenance workers are expected to be hired in November and will take care of the streetcar vehicles in the building's maintenance bays.

Once the final touches are put together at the facility, more than 20 employees will work there.

Streetcar Communications Manager Donna Mandelbaum says that the move into the Singleton Yard is indicative of the streetcar's progress as a whole.

Credit Cody Newill / KCUR
The inside of the streetcar maintenance bay. The vehicles will drive straight into the building and workers will be able to access the cars from three levels.

"This whole month is very exciting because we're moving from construction to operations and testing," Mandelbaum said. "We're about 95 percent complete now. There are platforms still under construction, and we have some [street] corner restoration as well as overlay work on all the streets that are on the streetcar route."

Streetcar workers will also switch on the power to the streetcar cable system next week. Mandelbaum says workers will put the cables through a series of tests in anticipation of the first streetcar vehicle's arrival in late October.

"Next week, we'll turn power on and they'll be 'hot,'" Mandelbaum said. "We're going to test the system without the streetcars here, and then once the streetcars are here, we'll test the electrical systems along with the vehicle."

The Streetcar Authority is being careful to warn residents not to touch any of the overhead cables after power has been switched on. They'll carry 750 volts of direct current to power streetcar vehicles.

After the first streetcar arrives in Kansas City, it will be tested at the Singleton Yard and then on the tracks. That process could take upwards of 6 months, as each vehicle is required to have more than 300 miles of "burn in" time on the tracks.

City officials previously stated that they hope to open the line by March 2016 for the NCAA Big 12 men's basketball tournament, though the official launch date is still sometime in spring 2016.

Cody Newill is a general assignment reporter for KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @CodyNewill or by email at cody@kcur.org. 

Cody Newill is part of KCUR's audience development team. Follow him on Twitter @CodyNewill or email him at cody@kcur.org.
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