Jackson County commuter rail still possible, but Union Station an unlikely stop

By Joe Lambe

It is physically possible but almost cost prohibitive to run a Jackson County commuter rail line to Union Station, a study determined.

The “train trench” study found it would cost from $758 million to $1.6 billion to place the downtown connection there, said Tom Gerend of the Mid-America Regional Council.

But the originally planned downtown stop at 3rd Street and Grand Avenue would cost only $168-to-$198 million, he said.

The entire plan for Jackson County commuter rail, including a possible line through Midtown, got derailed when a train company decided the downtown connection had to be at Union Station.

Kansas City Southern, whose tracks are needed for commuter rail, said it had to be there, county officials said.

“That appears to be technically possible but probably not financially,” Gerend said.

Talks are still underway with Kansas City Southern and planners will focus on moving forward with the new financial information, he said.

Among routes under consideration is a Highway 71 corridor route running from downtown to Grandview. Other routes are one going east to Blue Springs and another largely along Highway 350 to Pleasant Hill.

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders had hoped to finance the effort that would include hiking and biking trails with a sales tax.

Sanders said today, “We continue to work with our railroad partner and those conversations have been very productive.”

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