Streetcar expansion planning moves forward


By Joe Lambe

The city council on Thursday approved detailed planning for  three possible streetcar extension lines.

The three corridors are Main Street as far south as 75th street, east of Main along Independence Avenue and along either 31st Street or Linwood Boulevard.

The overall amount of new track will be from eight to 10 miles, consultants said.

Councilman Russ Johnson, a leader in the streetcar efforts, said the eastern routes off Main would probably go about two miles each.

The resolution follows the recommendations of BNIM Architects, consultants who chose those routes based on things like ability to attract federal funding, economic and neighborhood development, and transportation needs.

The resolution also calls for studying another potential future route, 18th street west onto Southwest Boulevard, for increased bus service.

Consultants said that could become more viable for streetcars if the city could work with Kansas City, Kan., and Wyandotte County to take it to the Kansas University Medical Center.

Vince Gautier, project director for BNIM, said the plan for now is to use streetcars and buses to connect the busiest transit corridors in the city.

The extended streetcars would work with buses on Troost and Prospect avenues and on 39th Street, he said at a council committee meeting before the full council vote.

Councilman Scott Taylor of the sixth district – along with many  residents of the south side – voiced wide support for a Main Street line to near 75th street that could later be extended to run along the Trolley Track trail to the “deep south.”

Councilman Jermaine Reed of the third district said he wanted streetcars to reach “the far east.”

Consultants said local funding such as a transportation district could pay for only about half the three extensions and federal or state funding would have to pick up the rest.

Councilman Jim Glover called for a report on efforts to get state funding.

Councilman John Sharp said state officials responded to previous requests for help like the city was asking for a highway to the moon. But now state officials are pressing for a transportation sales tax and will need support from urban areas, he said, so now is the time to try again.