KC Light Rail

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Light Rail in KC: Issues Recap

Chastain v. City: City wins! The Alternatives Analysis for a revised route continues unabated. Note to Hearne Christopher: Time to remove Chastain from your speed dial to make room for David Cook! Moving on…

Regional v. Starter Line: As an editorial in this week's Business Journal reminds us, this really isn't an either/or proposition. A starter line without a regional vision is dumb and a regional system without a first spike in the ground is impossible. Unfortunately, all of the rhetoric completely ignores the SmartMoves umbrella, even though the lines being drawn on the map are essentially the same. Here's an idea: Create a Plan A and B, then go with Plan B if Plan A fails! May we have our consultant fee now?

Midtown v. Downtown (and everyone else, for that matter): Not much has been made of this topic in the Old School Media, but it just may bubble over soon if 4th District Councilpersons Marcason and Gottstein avoid the tough work of calming down some very animated Hyde Park residents. Fear of encroachment, higher property taxes, and anything else that sounds Super Scary To Neighborhoods may be the thing that unravels the whole project… again. Believe it or not, the East Side "spur" debate is quietly resolving itself through good ol' communication (expect Cleaver, not Linwood). Take heed, Hyde Parkers!

Union Station v. Crown Center: Low on the list to most, but a few vocal proponents insist on the most direct connection possible with the only true bi-state success story (the Station is covering it's own expenses now, thank you very much). Our own informal polling suggests that it's wise to leverage the supposed support of the Hall clan — a first in KC light rail history — versus the symbolic gesture of a shorter walk to another mode of transit. We timed it ourselves and it's a five minute walk through The LINK to the Amtrak ticket counter; future commuter rail operations would likely terminate east of the actual station due to space constraints anyway. Our money's on Crown Center (with good signage pointing the way, never KC's strong point).

Grand v. Walnut v. Main: Oh, those poor parades full of dung-laden horses. Where will they go if light rail steals Grand? Probably the same place they went when we last had light rail (yes, streetcars are light rail… get over it) — it all peacefully co-existed, open-air streetcar-as-parade-float and all. But wait! Downtowners hatched an idea at a recent workshop to use Walnut between Union Station and the River Market as a transit-only corridor. Intended as a way to sway the conversation away from using Main and Walnut as a pair (northbound trains running on one street; southbound on the other — a remarkably dumb idea, but an official "option" nonetheless), it may take on a life of its own. Regardless, our money's on Grand, but expect to see lots of talk on how Walnut might work.

12 Comments so far

  1. northlander May 4th, 2008 8:24 am

    Fighting for the Grand route with Cordish and the Park Board will only slow down transit. Let’s move on and use Main St it’s right in the middle of the Sprint Center and the Music Hall with Hotels near by.[the three block rule]

  2. Brent May 4th, 2008 9:14 am

    Why Cleaver instead of Linwood? That one still doesn’t make sense to me. I’d much prefer Linwood or Indpendence Ave over Cleaver and can’t understand how Cleaver has gotten so much support. What Hyde Parker’s are supposedly fighting the Linwood line? Everyone I’ve talked to in the area seems excited by the prospects of the rail line along Linwood. NO surprise the Marcason and Gottstein aren’t doing anything about it one way or the other as neither seems terribly aware that their district extends north of Brookside…

    I prefer Walnut as a transit only line and then connecting over the U.S. Let’s face it, it’s a 5 minute walk to connect, but let’s face it, making public transit harder for Kansas Citians is probably not the way to increase usage. Plus, anything to add traffic to U.S. is probably a good idea.

  3. Dave May 4th, 2008 4:42 pm

    main goes THROUGH the P+L district, while grand does BY the district. i think that’s an important distinction that won’t go unnoticed when the city sits down with cordish. i wouldn’t worry too much about the walk to anything; if a light rail spine happens the downtowners will certainly dust off their downtown streetcar that will circulate people in a loop and hit all the attraction, plus connect with the spine on the north and south ends of the CBD. that would be something you could actually compare to portland’s streetcar.

    so yeah, walnut has its advantages (main has none since it would never be closed to vehicles, thus forcing us back to using a main/walnut pair… a non-starter for the downtown crowd). again, my money is on grand because of ultra-wide ROW, alignment with crown center and the new river crossing, and the business community’s support. i wouldn’t worry about the parks board.

  4. mainstream May 5th, 2008 10:32 pm

    Cleaver will not work east west, for a ton of reasons. Who in Hyde Park is against Linwood???

    I haven’t heard that at all.

    As a matter of fact, Linwood borders but is not in the Hyde Park neighborhood itself. I can see (and hear) Hyde Parkers supporting a Linwood route…

  5. Dave May 6th, 2008 8:44 am

    Please note a few of the reasons why you believe Cleaver won’t work. It’s an existing bus route, there’s plenty of ROW, and it connects with the reserved ROW along Watkins that heads towards the Triangle… perfect for a future expansion to the southeast part of the city (which happens to be asking “what’s in this for us?”. Per the consultants, the east side residents workshop is leaning towards Cleaver; I can’t imagine a better reason to make that choice.

    Hyde Parkers aren’t against Linwood, a few vocal residents (probably counted on one hand) are completely against light rail on Main Street through their neighborhood for the reasons stated in my post.

  6. Brent May 6th, 2008 11:05 am

    Ahhh, “Old” Hyde Park descent…yeah, there are a few of those folks that will go against anything on Main…

    Your argument on Grand vs Walnut/Main make sense in the P&L district area…still wish we could get it on Main by Union Station…

    I favor Cleaver III over Volker (which had previously been mentioned) and I suppose has its advantages. I would still really like the Linwood or Independence routes because I think there is a lot of redevelopment potential along those routes.

    However, I do think that the 71 middle area that they left open for potential rail access is better south of 47th street which would be an advantage for the southerners…I’d just so like to see the area at Linwood/Prospect get some increased traffic to make that badly-needing area more viable economically…

  7. Brent May 6th, 2008 11:08 am

    One other note on the Main/Grand argument is that I do prefer Main downtown because it’s closer to the convention district as well as the P&L. Where Grand just serves the P&L…

  8. Dave May 6th, 2008 5:28 pm

    one other note from me about linwood… if you chose that to go east, you’d be duplicating the route if you then decided to expand south to lee’s summit. basically, prospect and main are less than 2 miles apart between linwood and cleaver (which is also just under 2 miles)… not a very good use of limited funds for rail.

    cleaver also gives you one simple route where every train follows the same path in both directions. linwood would require knowing which train to board if you’re departing from anywhere north of midtown; imagine the uninitiated northlanders accidentally boarding a linwood train and expecting to arrive at the plaza!

  9. Brent May 7th, 2008 10:37 am

    I guess I had assumed that there would be a transfer station at Linwood and Main where people would change trains to go North/South. There is plenty of room for a transfer station….

  10. Dave May 7th, 2008 10:44 am

    Nope. Operationally, it would have meant alternating southbound trains terminating at Linwood and Prospect or the Plaza… not a shuttle that takes people from Linwood and Prospect to the “main line”.

  11. Brent May 7th, 2008 3:42 pm

    Why would they be looking solely at routes that began and ended at the ends of lines instead of transfer stations — which will eventually be necessary for future expansion anyway?

  12. Dave May 7th, 2008 3:46 pm

    I think initially people would scoff at a two-mile shuttle. Eventually when there are more lines that overlap, transferring will be required for some trips. I think we can all agree that is way into the future.

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