KC Light Rail

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Archive for the 'Missouri' Category

Crossing the river is about to get easier

MoDOT broke ground today on Kansas City's first, safe Missouri River crossing for pedestrians and bicycles… ever.

See the video above for the Heart of America Bridge makeover.

Believe it or not, crossing the river on foot or bike today is a very dicey affair — unlike almost all other river cities. There is literally no room on the Broadway Bridge, Heart of America traffic zooms along at 50+ mph, and MoDOT slammed the door on ped/bike access on the brand-new Paseo Bridge.

The Heart of America crossing will be barrier-separated, although users will need to start their trip on 3rd Street in the River Market or on Burlington Street in North Kansas City. Auto users are treated to a plethora of access options.

This new crossing is even more necessary when you consider the limited transit options connecting the two halves of Kansas City — bus service is limited after 6 p.m., and non-existent on Sundays.

The HOA bridge had been tagged as the river crossing in most of the light rail plans that crossed into the northland. However, it was deemed in recent plans to be incapable of handling full light rail vehicles and would need to be rebuilt.


Midwest HSR meeting this weekend

We'll be attending the Midwest High Speed Rail Association's Annual Meeting this weekend in Chicago and will do our best to offer live coverage via Twitter.

This event tends to be heavily focused on Illinois, but there will be an overview of passenger rail projects funded by the Recovery Act (which includes Missouri). There will also be an overview of a French proposal for 220 mph service in the Midwest, which includes a link to Kansas City.

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Sanders to discuss commuter rail at Central Exchange

This is the item to break our months-long silence: Jackson County CEO Mike Sanders will present his Regional Rail Plan to the Central Exchange on Jan. 26. Members attend for free, non-members pay $30. And yes, men are very much welcome to attend.

We haven't heard a peep out of Sanders since he unveiled his plan to a surprised media way back in October. It was well over a month before any information even appeared on the Jackson County website (don't let that date stamp fool you). The description for next week's event still maintains that stimulus money is being sought to pay for construction, even though all stimulus deadlines related to transit have already passed and it's not a given that a new jobs bill will include transit funding (assuming such a bill even passes, considering the results of this week's special election in Massachusetts).


Sanders set to unveil commuter rail plan

Regional Commuter Rail Map
The Independence Examiner reports today that Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders is planning to unveil a regional commuter rail system that covers three counties on the Missouri side of the metro — Jackson, Clay, and Platte.

Sanders has been quietly showing these plans to local leaders – mayors, economic development officials, railroads – for some time. He said the 2,000 or so people who have peaked [sic] at the plans have embraced the idea quickly.

“The majority of cities in Eastern Jackson County are on board,” Blue Springs Mayor Carson Ross said.

On the Kansas side, Wyandotte County could conceivably participate as it does today by contract with KCATA. Johnson County has denounced any sort of true, bi-state transit entity — and don't expect that to change anytime soon. There's no indication who would operate the DMU-style service, but a well-known operator sits right in our backyard.

The plan is the result of planning work that began in the spring.

No capital funding has been identified for the estimated $1 billion cost, but county officials pledge trips to Washington for a majority of the cost (presumably in an earmark from retiring Senator You-Know-Who, since the next federal transportation bill is in limbo).

When it’s needed someday, just adding a fourth lane to Interstate 70 from downtown Kansas City to I- 435 near the stadiums will cost about $3 billion.

Operational funding would require a new sales tax of as little as 1/8-cent for each of the three counties, which share a population of just under one million. Presumably, some routes would negate the need for KCATA express bus routes paid for today out of affected cities' general funds (Independence, Raytown, Blue Springs, Lee's Summit, and Liberty).

Some cities would be served that have no transit service at all, such as Grandview, Riverside, Kearney, and Oak Grove.

The proposed system appears to follow the Commuter Corridors that are part of MARC's SmartMoves regional transit plan. A few complementary projects (here, here, here, and here) have also been submitted to MARC's long-range transportation plan.

The terminus at Union Station would be served by the downtown streetcar proposed by KCATA.


Take MoDOT’s long-distance bus survey

Often forgotten in transit circles is the long-distance, or inter-city, bus — especially in KC since stations are nearly invisible. Greyhound and Jefferson are still serving more passengers here than Amtrak (from a small-yet-tidy facility at 11th and Troost; upstart MegaBus is a hidden gem for cheap trips to Columbia, St. Louis, or Chicago (from a lonely bus stop pole at the 3rd and Grand park-and-ride… don't blink!).

Options within the state are fairly limited, however, so MoDOT is asking for your input on experiences and needs for possible expansion of LD bus service within the state and the area.

If you've actually used the services that the market provides KC today, you know connectivity is a major issue. St. Louis has resolved this with the new Gateway Multimodal Center (combining LD and local bus, light rail, taxi, and Amtrak). Ideally, all services should be combined at Union Station's existing footprint, but that would probably require an ownership change (transit hubs aren't big profit centers).


MoDOT continues lobbying against Complete Streets

Read this update from the Missouri Bicycle Federation. Complete Streets is a concept that makes streets accessible to all users, not just cars. Similar measures are being debated and passed around the country (Hawaii is the most recent).

So does it make sense for a state DOT to spend taxpayer money to lobby against legislation that affects them? We'll answer that for you: NO.

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