KC Light Rail

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

Archive for August, 2009

Other cities applying for TIGER streetcar funds

In light of yesterday's ordinance supporting a regional TIGER application that includes $6 million for funding of a downtown streetcar, we've been keeping tabs on the following cities that are making similar applications for TIGER stimulus funds:

  • Salt Lake City is applying for $35 million in TIGER funds (which augment a local match, unlike KC) to fund a two-mile streetcar line connecting a light rail station and the Sugar House business district.
  • Atlanta has funded a $600,000 study and is teaming up with the local transit agency to apply for as much as $300 million in TIGER funds (the state-wide cap) to kick-start a two-line streetcar system in the "Peachtree Corridor" connecting downtown and midtown. See peachtreecorridor.org.
  • Boise is applying for $40 million in TIGER funds to pay for a 16-block downtown streetcar route that could cost up to $65 million. Operations would be paid for through special fees assessed on adjacent property owners. See boisestreetcar.org.
  • Dallas is applying for $48 million in TIGER funds for a three-mile streetcar line connecting Dallas Union Station and the Oak Cliff Arts District. See oakcliffta.org. Dallas already has a privately-run vintage streetcar line that serves the Uptown neighborhood (and several light rail lines, of course).
  • Fort Worth is also reportedly applying for a similar amount in TIGER funds to jump-start a multi-line streetcar system.

Kansas City's $6 million request won't cover the entire project cost, of course, but will likely pay for any upfront design and engineering studies that will be required. KCATA estimate the cost of two-mile route connecting the River Market and Crown Center to be about $100-150 million. A new revenue stream would be needed for operating costs of about $2 million annually, which could be covered by a TDD assessed on adjacent property owners (who stand to gain the most from the system).


T&I advances streetcar proposal

The city council's Transportation & Infrastructure committee just advanced an ordinance supporting a regional stimulus funds application that includes $6 million to advance the downtown streetcar project. The original proposal indicated that stimulus funds might pay for the entire capital cost, but in the end MARC built consensus around an all-inclusive (or "watered-down", some would say) application.

The application will also include elements of the SmartMoves BRT plan from both Kansas and Missouri (The JO and Unified Government are not submitting their own applications, it appears), as well as significant bike/ped improvements. The leading element is additional transportation-related funding for US Rep. Cleaver's Green Impact Zone, which has been lauded for focusing a wide array of government programs on disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The full council will take up the ordinance at today's legislative session; it is expected to pass.

The specific stimulus funds grant program is called TIGER and is unique to the stimulus act — unlike other formula transportation funds from ARRA. It is rumored to be a trial balloon for discretionary grants in an 18-month extension of the existing transportation bill, something the White House has been pushing for in lieu of taking up a brand-new 6-year authorization in the middle of the health care debate.

According to testimony at today's committee meeting, an estimated 40 awards will be granted out of thousands of applications.


Attention WyCo residents: Ask for a transit sales tax!

Tonight, the commissioners and mayor of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, will discuss sales tax options that may be placed on the ballot to address budget shortages. KCK does not have dedicated transit funding like KCMO, and will be experiencing service cuts this year while simultaneously asking for federal capital funding for the State Avenue BRT line.

This is your chance to ask the mayor and commissioners to consider a 1/8- or 1/4-cent sales tax to be dedicated to bus services, eliminating entirely the annual line item that comes from the general fund (which is subject to the whims of the mayor/commission). This sales tax could be used to cover and expand existing routes, as well as the operation of BRT.

Sales Tax Hearing
5 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 6
KCK City Hall
701 N. 7th Street

City Hall is accessible from routes 101, 102, 103, 104, 106, 107, and 115. See Google Transit for a trip plan.

A public meeting to discuss this year's recommended service cuts is also this evening:

4-6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 6
Indian Springs Shopping Center, Community Room
4601 State Ave.