KC Light Rail

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Brookings: KC at “competitive disadvantage”

A recent Brookings Institution report on walkability specifically calls out Kansas City — as well as peer cities Cincinnati and Detroit — as being at a "competitive disadvantage" for lacking walkable urban development, primarily tied to a lack of prior investment in rail transit systems. While this should come as no surprise to most of us, it adds to the chorus of non-transit-geek voices pressuring KC to move forward with light rail, if only to remain economically competitive. Of the 30 metros studied, the top 15 most walkable "also have the preponderance of full or partial rail transit systems and thus 95 percent of the rail transit-served walkable urban places." Place like Denver, Portland, and San Diego.

On a side note, the report mentions the Crossroads specifically as not yet being at critical mass, meaning "new development projects do not need significant public or private subsidies to proceed with the next new project."

1 Comment so far

  1. walker December 21st, 2007 3:55 pm

    I buy the premise in this report that KC is not very walker-friendly–and this will put us at a competitive disadvantage soon if not already–but the ranking methodolgy is pretty goofy, as the author admits.

    The rankings are based on population per “walkable place”, not on transit service or other factors (although the author does draw conclusions about the correlation between higher ranked walkable cities and their transit systems). KC’s pop is 1.9+ million with only one walkable place–Country Club Plaza.

    If/when Crossroads reaches “critical mass” (and barring other changes in other cities) KC would leapfrog from #23 of 30 to #12–between San Diego and LA. If/when downtown KCMO is added, we’d be at #7–between Seattle and Chicago.

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