By Kevin Collison
After what has seemed an eternity of preliminary infrastructure work, the first rails for the streetcar Main Street extension will start being laid early next year beginning at Union Station and building south.
Plans call for the track-laying work to be completed in one-half mile segments at a time, approximately three- to four blocks. The tracks are being installed in the outer, curbside lanes on both sides of Main.
A video depicted how the streetcar will operate on Main Street can be seen here.
The $351.6 million streetcar extension will run 3.5 miles from Union Station to University of Missouri-Kansas City and is expected to be operational in early 2025. Half the funding is coming from a Federal Transit Administration grant approved early this year.
The local match is coming from a property tax surcharge on commercial and residential properties in the Transportation Development District established for the project. Owners already have been seeing the new TDD surcharge on their bills for next year.
An addition one-cent sales tax also is being collected on purchases at businesses within the TDD to help fund the project.
Tom Gerend, executive director of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, said the decision to install the tracks in one-half mile segments is intended to reduce disruptions on Main Street. A protected work zone will be established for each segment.
The firms building the extension also have established a project office at 1 E. Armour.
When the track-laying project nears UMKC, the plan calls for a retaining wall to separate the tracks from the adjoining Trolley Trail. The tracks will run on a slightly higher grade than the recreational trail.
Gerend said the Trolley Trail will generally follow its current route, but some sections will be moved slightly to the east.
Another major part of the Main Street extension will be the expansion of the existing Kite Singleton Yard located northwest of Third and Holmes near the River Market.
The $12 million project will expand the maintenance barn by adding a maintenance bay for two additional streetcars, and renovate a nearby existing building into office and storage space.
The expanded maintenance facility is required as the streetcar system moves beyond the initial 2.2-mile downtown route that opened in 2016 to the new extension to UMKC and a planned extension to Berkley Riverfront Park.
Work on the riverfront project is expected to begin next year and be completed by early 2025. The extension will utilize the Grand Viaduct to reach Berkley Park.
A separate project funded by the city, Streetcar Authority and KC Area Transportation Authority will build a pedestrian and bicycle bridge parallel to the viaduct.
A future streetcar extension farther east to Bally’s Kansas City casino and the planned Kansas City Current NWSL stadium also is being studied by the Streetcar Authority.
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