The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority received word Monday that federal funding for the Prospect MAX rapid bus system was included in the federal spending bill.
Funding for the Prospect MAX, a new route that would run from 75th Street to downtown Kansas City along Prospect Avenue, has been uncertain. The project needed the federal funding to be constructed.
If federal money doesn’t materialize this year, there’s greater uncertainty because President Donald Trump’s budget outline eliminates the transportation funding source in 2018.
Without the funding, the project would not move forward, the KCATA said.
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The text of the spending bill, which was released early Monday, included $29.89 million in Federal Transit Administration Small Starts Transportation Program for the long-awaited transit project.
The bill still needs approval by the House and Senate this week before going on to the president, hopefully by Friday.
“It looks very good for us,” said Robbie Makinen, president and chief executive of the KCATA.
The overall project costs $54 million, which includes $8 million in federal funding already received.
Local matching funds of $3.5 million are coming from the KCATA and $12.5 million from Kansas City, which is expected to come from the $800 million bond package that voters approved last month.
“We think that is a critical step in our MAX series,” Makinen said.
The projected needed the $29.89 million in Small Starts funding to move forward.
“This kind of funding, for us, is very, very important,” Makinen said. “It’s the Small Starts and the TIGER (discretionary) grant funding that levels the playing field for organization like us.”
Transportation funding normally is handed out based on ridership, so smaller agencies like the KCATA rely on those grants for their projects, he said.
If the funding is approved, the KCATA will have to go through a grant process with the FTA, said Dick Jarrold, the KCATA’s vice president for regional planning and development.
The KCATA doesn’t foresee any problems with that process because it has been working with the FTA for 2 1/2 years on the project.
The long-awaited project is in final design, but the KCATA needs to make sure the grant is in place before it can proceed with construction or ordering the buses.
The goal is to have Prospect MAX fully operational by the middle of 2019, which means next year would be the big year for construction work.