Downtown streetcar system almost ready, minus streetcars

streetcar-tracksDelivery of the Kansas City streetcars is months late and city officials are putting pressure on the manufacturer, officials said Wednesday.

The first streetcar was to arrive in June, then September and now not until December, said Ralph Davis, the city’s project manager for the streetcar project.

The city contract allows a $1,000 a day fine for the first late streetcar and $500 a day for each of the three others, he reported to the council Transportation and Infrastructure committee.

“We have very emphatically said, try harder,” Davis said.

The city originally planned to allow six months to test the cars, Davis said. Mayor Sly James told the Kansas City Star that he wanted them running by next March’s Big 12 conference men’s basketball tournament.

The city contract calls for the delivery of the $18 million in streetcars made by CAF USA Inc, a subsidiary of the Spanish firm Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles.

Every other aspect of the $102 million, 2.2 mile downtown street car system is on budget and on time for an expected start early next year, Davis reported.

The delay seems to be caused by various things, he said, many related to making parts in Spain and shipping them to the United States for final assembly to comply with buy American requirements that are part of federal grants.

The Spanish firms did not get parts to a ship on time in June and there were problems with suppliers, he said.

Also, Davis said, the Kansas City cars are part of a deal that includes street cars for Cincinnati and a new mayor elected there called for halting all streetcar work for a month, creating an initial delay.

Davis said the city is working with the Spanish company but also pressing hard and noting the fine costs.

“Their meter is spinning,” he said. “We made them aware their meter is spinning.”

Leave a Comment