KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City transportation leaders plan to study the possibility of a major east-west public transit expansion.
The KC Streetcar Authority and the KC Area Transportation Authority plan to look at “multi-modal transit option” going east and west in the heart of the city.
The news comes after the Streetcar Authority approved at least $75,000 toward the study with plans that other partners will contribute as well. The study is estimated to cost $250,000-$300,000 total, a spokesman for the KC Streetcar Authority said.
Discussions on where the east-west expansion would go are just starting, but the Streetcar Authority said in a news release that the effort started, in part, after a request from the University of Kansas Health System.
The health care provider is pushing for the western part of the extension to go along 39th Street as it looks for ways to improve connections with its Kansas City, Kansas, facilities and other hospitals in Kansas City, Missouri.
“There are countless benefits. The Health System would much rather invest in world class health care technology instead of paying to park more vehicles on the campus,” said Bob Page, president and CEO of KU Health System.
“In addition, the western extension would also have environmental benefits as vehicle traffic would be reduced. We believe the benefits of a western streetcar extension would be shared across the entire metropolitan area and fulfill the bi-state mission of the KCATA.”
Mayor Quinton Lucas, on the other hand, already has his eyes on extending the streetcar to east Kansas City.
The study is expected to evaluate an eastern extension along Linwood Boulevard.
“Kansas City’s streetcar continues to be a great draw to our City’s downtown neighborhoods, bolstering businesses, increasing tourism, and helping get area residents to where they need to go,” Lucas said in a news release.
“Still, there are so many more Kansas City communities — particularly those in our East Side neighborhoods — who could benefit vastly from an East-West Streetcar expansion, which would create more free transit opportunities for more people who rely on public transportation for work or for play.”
KCATA President and CEO Robbie Makinen also hinted in a statement that they could look at connecting more public transit to the Truman Sports Complex.
“RideKC’s four pillars of transit are connecting people to jobs, education, housing and healthcare on a foundation of social equity,” Makinen said. “We are excited that KCSA has advanced matching funds to study east/west connectivity for the region’s essential healthcare workers and the Truman Sports Complex.”
The study would begin in early 2022 and take about 12 months to finish.
Crews will officially break ground in a few months for the Streetcar’s Main Street Extension, which will connect Union Station with the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. That $330 million project is expected to wrap up sometime in 2025.
There are also plans to expand the streetcar north to the riverfront, and the Streetcar Authority expects to complete a new study of a streetcar extension into North Kansas City soon, the Kansas City Business Journal reports.
“The time to think about future connections is now,” said Tom Gerend, executive director of the KC Streetcar Authority.