KC Light Rail

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Today’s public comments

Big take-aways from today's public comments segment of the Transportation and Infrastructure committee meeting (watch it online):

- The Northland Chamber will debate support for the starter line in September, but cautioned support would diminish unless the northern terminus remains Vivion Road (updated 7/25/08).
- The Clay County EDC) will support the starter line if the northern terminus remains Vivion Road.
- Councilman John Sharp again urged extension of the starter line south to 63rd along Bruce Watkins (which is dedicated ROW).
- The Sierra Club supports the starter line.
- Several men in suits who think they know better complaining about Union Station.
- A letter from Union Station president Andi Udris stating his support for light rail and the inclusion of Union Station as a transit hub (we'll admit we didn't see that one coming).
- Dennis O'Neill hates light rail and conveniently forgot to mention the transit-dependent 6th District will be served by Troost BRT next year… oh, and some huge TIF project as big as the Power & Light District.
- The Regional Transit Alliance supports the starter line.
- Councilman Ed Ford poignantly noted how far we've come when you see Crown Center and Union Station duking it out to see who will become a light rail stop.

Thankfully, committee chair Russ Johnson directly addressed two main concerns during the meeting: Union Station and the "tourist" label being lobbed by Councilmen Sharp and Terry Riley.

- Union Station will be served, exactly how is "wide open" until more design work is complete and won't be formalized before the November election.
- While the starter line route hits tourist destinations, the study area — by no coincidence — contains more job and population density than any other place in the metro and both are expected to grow in the near future.

7 Comments so far

  1. Brent July 24th, 2008 3:33 pm

    “While the starter line hits tourist destinations, the study area contains more job and population density than any other place in the metro”

    And crosses the single biggest geographical hurdle in the city. As the northland continues to grow, adding a rail line that crosses the river will have major economic benefits long-term — it will be much more efficient to add trains to the line than keep building newer and wider bridges across the river.

    It will be nice for tourism too…which isn’t a bad thing.

  2. Evelyn Childers July 24th, 2008 6:45 pm

    Well, Dave, I guess I’m chopped liver….Didn’t you like my idea of coming to stops at Crown Ctr. AND Union Station by having the C.Ctr. stop up at the south end of C.Ctr? I think everyone able to work and shop at Crown Ctr and work at Hallmark can walk a short distance. That makes a straight line to Union Sta. ….should make everyone Happy.

    Thanks for listening,


  3. Pat July 25th, 2008 9:03 am

    Why is Russ Johnson so against Union Station when Union Station has now come out for themselves? I thought being a member of MENSA meant that you were smart…

  4. Dave July 25th, 2008 9:47 am

    councilman johnson is pointing out the logistical challenges caused by decades of misguided, anti-transit decisions that make using Union Station as the ONLY transit hub an incredibly *costly* endeavor. that’s not smart?

    the likely scenario is that we’ll be forced into an expensive retrofit that won’t have single transfer point for all modes, all to satiate the nostalgia of a vocal and emotional minority. that’s not smart.

    union station was built as a hub for *heavy rail* and that’s it. it was never truly intermodal because the only modes that were taken into account were trains and cars. intercity bus service didn’t exist in 1914 and no one was doing anything serious about pedestrian and bike connectivity at the time.

    so let’s recap:

    - light rail will run north/south, *perpendicular* to the north waiting room and terminal tracks (where there is really only capacity for commuter rail from the west); light rail will *not* run alongside the existing tracks (neither did the streetcars).
    - bad 80s development and science city block access to the original platform area, requiring construction of new commuter rail platforms to the east.
    - the FOCUS plan already assumed an intermodal facility would go one block east of the existing station.
    - the highest concentration of jobs is in the loop, forcing most passengers to transfer to another mode for one more mile (a mile they don’t have to worry about today when arriving in the loop by bus).

  5. Dick Holwick July 25th, 2008 6:27 pm

    You mis-reported on the Northland Chambers position. The Chamber will meet in September to debate light rail. At that time, the ballot issue will be discussed along with the costs of the project and its cost impact and benefit to our members. My statements at Thursdays Committee hearing spoke to the fact that there would be little chance for the Chambers support of the issue if the line did not go all the way north to Vivion Road.

    You have to listen and report more carefully.
    Dick Holwick-Chair Elect, Northland Chamber

  6. Dave July 25th, 2008 7:55 pm

    thanks for clarifying… we’ve updated the post.

    we encourage the chamber to support the starter line based solely on the fact that it will help the northland remain regionally competitive for jobs and residents, in spite of rising gas prices. we hope to hear from you more often!

  7. northlander July 27th, 2008 11:19 pm

    Someone needs to come up with a plan for the Paseo Bridge because if the I-29 /N. Oak interchange are being worked on at the same time there could be some traffic problems.
    Or maybe the bridge will be done by then.

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