The future layout of Kansas City's planned streetcar extension from downtown to the University of Missouri-Kansas City is on a map, with proposed stops and alignment on Main Street revealed at a recent public hearing.
For the most part, the eight suggested streetcar stops mirror those in place for the MAX rapid-transit bus route now serving that stretch of Main, according to Tom Gerend, executive director of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority.
The streetcar would stop at 27th Street; Linwood; Amour Boulevard; 39th Street; 43rd Street; 45th Street; Emmanuel Cleaver II Boulevard; and 51st Street near UMKC.
A major apartment redevelopment already is in the works near the proposed 39th Street stop. A briefing on the streetcar extension at Community Christian Church last week was attended by about 130 people, Gerend said, and provided valuable feedback to the authority. The report is here.
“We had a great turnout and people are excited about the next step for the streetcar,” Gerend said. “The feeling was ‘let’s just build it already.’”
He said the locations were a starting point.
“We’ll be conducting additional analysis and input over the next month,” Gerend said, “while we fine tune list of recommended locations.”
A follow-up session is scheduled for June 5, 4:30-6:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 11 E. 40th St., at which final recommendations are expected.
Much work remains to be done, however, before a streetcar could be operating along Main between its current southern terminus at Union Station and UMKC by 2023.
Last week was the deadline for people living in the streetcar transportation development district to obtain mail-in ballots for an election that would authorize the TDD board to collect local revenues for the $230 million project.
There were 5,044 applications received, and those ballots will be mailed by the Circuit Court Administrator’s office on May 1. They must be notarized and returned to the court office no later then 5 p.m. on June 12.
If voters approve local funding, the streetcar authority is expected to apply for $100 million in federal funding this fall. No local revenues would be collected without the federal funding in place.
Besides a discussion about potential stops, the hearing last week also looked at where the streetcar tracks would be located on Main. One option is to run the tracks down the middle lanes; the other is on the outer lanes.
Gerend said there was slight edge for outside lanes in those two sections between Union Station and Cleaver Boulevard, but that it was close, and both options are attractive for different reasons: The middle lanes would be faster and less likely to be obstructed by parked cars; the outer lanes would have better pedestrian access.
At Cleaver Boulevard, the route would shift to the former Country Club streetcar right-of-way along Brookside Boulevard.
The last stop near the UMKC campus would be located next to the Brookside 51 project, a 170-unit apartment building and Whole Foods grocery store.
The streetcar authority said the Country Club right-of-way plan would allow Brookside Boulevard to continue its current configuration and would not close that stretch of the Trolley Trail.
Gerend said the biggest topics of discussion at the public hearing were the proposed stops on Linwood, 43rd and 45th streets. Union Hill residents urged the streetcar stop be placed closer to their neighborhood at 31st Street rather than Linwood.
There also was concern that the 43rd and 45th street stops would be too close together. The proposed 43rd Street stop is close to St. Luke’s Hospital and has a high ridership on the MAX line; the 45th Street stop is near several hotels and the American Century headquarters.
And the suggested route does include one significant shift from the current MAX stop lineup: The current stop serving the Federal Reserve Bank at 29th Street would be moved to 27th Street to better serve Crown Center.
Kevin Collison, a freelance contributor to KCUR 89.3, writes about downtown Kansas City for his website CityScene KC.