KC Light Rail

Your source for news and information on Kansas City’s light rail progress

Archive for June, 2007

The Mayor’s Priorities

No commentary here, just providing the official list, based on various news sources:

  1. Building relationships with the rest of the city council
  2. Formalizing the city's finance and economic development policies
  3. Ensuring the vibrancy of downtown
  4. Neighborhood revitalization
  5. Housing
  6. Education
  7. Crime
  8. Waste water
  9. Transit
  10. Citizen satisfaction
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Funk and Chastain to meet, swap LRT recipes

Just kidding… but the two will be having a light rail "summit" (Steve Penn's words, not ours) during Chastain's July visit to KC. We hope — based on each man's excessive use of first-person singular pronouns — that they bring their wives along to diffuse all of the Type A talk that's sure to ensue. We offer our own advice to each:


  • Give your regards to (and give up on) Broadway. The last group you want to fight is a neighborhood association. Let the city go with Main/Grand, as most people who have an opinion on the matter are no longer concerned with the precision of the ballot language.
  • Listen. Mayor Funk is a very smart man. Stay on topic and be reasonable, or he will intellectually crush you like a Swallowtail Butterfly.
  • Relax. Dave Helling is the only one that's really out to get you. Everyone else just wants to build consensus.


  • Pause the insistence on regionalism. Note we didn't say "give up" or "screw Kansas", but unless you've visited Topeka lately, we suggest (again) giving the locally-funded starter route a shot. Not only would it be leverage with Chastain for changing other specifics, but it stems the tide that's growing against you on the issue.
  • Listen. Chastain is an insistent and battered man. People are continually trying to cut him down on a personal level to try and make him go away, but that only makes him more tenacious.
  • Relax, and bring Ed Ford, too.

Richardson: More light rail!

New Mexico governor and Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson was in LA this week and made some very specific comments on why he supports expanding light rail systems in the US. Claiming he would make light rail "an equal partner" with highways, he also noted that the current administration has been absent when it comes to developing transportation alternatives. Richardson's home state has no light rail, but is home to Wi-Fi-enabled quasi-BRT lines (a second starting next month and another which will soon be replaced by a modern streetcar) and a very popular commuter rail line, all centered around one intermodal station in downtown Albuquerque.


KCI Connection: Now, Later, Never?

A letter to the editor and a special column by transit activist Kite Singleton take on both sides of the costly airport link included in the voter-approved light rail plan. Since KCI is so far away from the city center, does it make sense to ever build out that far? (Although, truth be told it's no more than 4 miles further away than Lambert is from St. Louis city center — feel free to compare MCI and STL yourself at Google Maps). One also has to consider recent comments by aviation and other city officials that a) the city must rely on the new car rental tax to pay for the Sprint Center, b) KCI is similarly addicted to your parking dollars, and c) a more traditional single terminal is in the works.

Yes, it will be expensive, but it should be in any long-term plan, if only to offer denser development incentives in the sprawling Northland. The most obvious benefit, however, will be to offer visitors a car-free experience from the moment of their arrival, which would increase the likelihood they will use the system more during their entire stay. In the interim, a boost to the pathetic, weekday-only #129 bus route is sorely needed.

Also of note, Saturday was the 50th anniversary of the last run of Kansas City's streetcars. Thank you for your wonderful legacy, Mayor Bartle.


Downtown Council releases light rail position

The Downtown Council calls what they released today a position paper, but it reads more like a Kansas City Star editorial… light and mostly ineffective (government waste is bad, we're convinced!). Regardless, it's nice to know the DTC supports a self-funded starter line "under construction by 2010″. Not sure how many times the mayor can hear this before commenting that it's at least worth considering. Are you listening, Ed Ford? We're going to assume that the late-Friday release is not intended to bury the document, but just bad timing by the DTC's PR department.


Feasibility study update

The KCATA has awarded Phase 1 of a $2 million contract to Kansas City-based HNTB yesterday to do the real engineering work — formally called the Alternatives Analysis by the FTA — on the official voter-approved light rail plan (a.k.a. the "Broadway" route). Up until now, the discussion about what would and would not work was all conjecture and posturing. Another tidbit of good news is that HNTB will also be analyzing the alternative "Main/Grand" starter route put forward by the Urban Society (and echoed by TOD competition winner BNIM).


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