KC Light Rail

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Archive for February, 2008

Scoping meeting recap

Wednesday night's scoping meeting felt like a paint-by-numbers affair. The FTA was present for the first time, lending a more official tone to the proceedings. Basically, the purpose was to gather public comment for the record, not to answer any questions. If you read the scoping booklet, you didn't miss anything. The meat and potatoes work will begin in March and continue throughout the summer: final route, costs, and benefits will all be decided before the year is out with a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) due by December and the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA, or "light rail or nothing") by March 2009. In short, KC is on track to be under consideration for the next FTA reauthorization (2010-2015). The only real hurdle remaining is, of course, local funding.


Scoping meeting tonight

The ATA will host the first public meeting of Phase II of the Alternatives Analysis tonight. The agenda is here and the scoping booklet is here. This is your chance to provide your opinion the final route between the Plaza and I-29.

5-8 p.m.
Mohart Community Center
3200 Wayne (between Paseo and Bruce R. Watkins) [map]

The facility is directly accessible from ATA route #28, which terminates at 9th & Main or Blue Ridge Boulevard (or free transfer from MAX at Crown Center). You can also use the Trip Planner.

See you there!

UPDATE: The ATA will be giving two identical presentations tonight, one at 5:30 p.m. and one at 7:30 p.m.


ATA launches project website

The ATA has launched an official light rail website — http://kansascitylightrail.org/ — and it looks very promising. Hat tip to Prime Buzz and kudos to the City Council for repeatedly asking the ATA for something of high quality like the KC Icon site for the Paseo Bridge redo.

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Bus tax will stay on April ballot

The ruling is in: the 15-year extension of the ATA bus tax will remain on the April ballot. Jackson County Judge John O'Malley found "no legal support for the notion that the actions the city took here were unlawful or unconstitutional." The Kansas City City Council repealed a voter-approved light rail petition initiative in November 2007 a year after the "Chastain Plan" diverted the 3/8-cent now being sought for extension.

Regardless, a revised city-backed plan is still in progress and has entered Phase II of the Alternatives Analysis. Chastain's light rail plan would have likely met with opposition from the FTA because it would have caused a reduction in traditional bus service (see the legal precedent here).

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Portland impresses, Kansas doesn’t

Prime Buzz reports that the KC City Council contingent that visited Portland just returned very impressed. It's great to read positive comments from a council member whose district won't be directly served by the proposed starter line — the 5th District's Cindy Circo, in this case — unlike the disparaging comments from the 6th District's John Sharp. Sharp recently commented that light rail would serve Columbia better than it would serve KC, from his perspective.

Meanwhile, the stark reality of light rail support in the Kansas Legislature finally appears: the regional legislation proposed by Mayor Funkhouser won't be on the next legislative agenda. Regardless, there is still work to do on the Missouri side (you know, the OTHER three counties in the proposed five-county alliance).

Also, if you haven't marked your calendars for the Wednesday, Feb. 27 light rail scoping meeting… do it now!


SmartMoves update summary posted

MARC has released a summary and notes from all 25 SmartMoves update sessions held late last year for about 300 participants. The results are not very surprising to us: the highest priority corridors are the ones with the most congestion (I-35, I-70, I-29) and least political will to provide a real alternative (commuter rail, not "freeway flyer" buses).

It would be great if MARC were out front on the light rail issue explaining to people that what KCMO is proposing for a starter line is actually a big chunk of the Red Line (Vivion Road to UMKC). They could also easily explain that the regional approach that Funkhouser is proposing is just a variation on SmartMoves as a whole (bi-state legislation, cross-metro services). Instead, participants are left wondering how this update fits into Kansas City's transit puzzle and who's really in charge.

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