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Citizens' Group Wants To Extend Streetcar South To UMKC

Elle Moxley
KCUR 89.3
UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton says a proposal to extend the Main Street streetcar down to 51st Street could increase enrollment.

A proposed $227 million extension of Kansas City’s streetcar line could add nearly four miles to the current route.

The Kansas City Regional Transit Alliance – a citizens’ group not affiliated with the city or the KC Streetcar Authority – filed a petition in Jackson County Court Wednesday to fund an expansion of the current line with a new taxing district along Main Street.

“You think about the shops we have here,” UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton said Thursday morning outside the Colonial Shops on 51st Street. “You think about the Plaza. You think about the Nelson art gallery.”

About 16,000 students attend UMKC. Only 20 percent live on campus. The rest commute.  

“Every campus in the country has parking issues, and public transportation like this can only make it better,” Morton said.

Jay Tomlinson with Helix Architecture says expanding the streetcar line south so it stretches from the River Market to UMKC makes sense.

“We know there is good support along the Main Street corridor line for an extension,” Tomlinson said.

Kansas City voters have already rejected one proposed streetcar expansion. But that plan would have had streetcars rolling down Linwood, and it failed mainly in neighborhoods east of Troost. On Main Street, more neighbors supported the plan.

A 1-cent sales tax and a tax on property within 1/3 mile of the line would play for the extension.

A judge still needs to determine if the proposed taxing district is legal. Then there could be up to three votes on the matter.

Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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