Streetcar board looks ahead after successful election


Photo courtesy KC Regional Transit Alliance.

A Downtown sales tax increase to help build a two-mile streetcar system starts in April and higher property taxes for people in the transit district will be assessed next year, officials said Monday.

The $100 million project that transit district voters approved last week was reviewed yesterday by the board of directors of the Kansas City Downtown Streetcar Transportation Development District.

Some construction is expected to begin by summer or fall and the system is to be operating in 2015.

It will run from the river market area to union station, largely along Main Street, but advocates have always considered that just a start. They envision streetcars going to the Plaza and beyond.

After years of inaction on rail mass transit, there is much to excite advocates like the Regional Transit Alliance.

Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders is working toward submitting a countywide 1-cent sales tax next summer or fall for much broader mass transit effort. It could fund up to three commuter rail lines plus expanded bus service and trails.

Sanders says he is still negotiating with the railroads that own the existing tracks. If the county sales tax goes forward and is approved, Sanders said, it would replace the 1-cent sales tax voters approved last week for within the city transit district area.

Probably the first commuter rail line would run from the river market area along the I-70 corridor linking cities all the way to Odessa, Sanders said. Another would run from the market area along 350 Highway to Pleasant Hill.

A third commuter rail route, still under study, would run from the market area down the U.S. 71 corridor to Grandview.

Supporters of the third route, such as city councilman John Sharp, say it would spur development needed to revive the Bannister Mall area.