October 4, 2013

Kansas City streetcar image is unveiled

Kansas Citians got their first chance Friday night to envision what the modern streetcar might look like downtown. The city provided photos of the streetcar, and there was even a mockup of a streetcar shelter at 1900 Main St.

Kansas Citys downtown streetcars wont roll until 2015 at the earliest, but people got their first chance Friday night to envision what the system will look like.

A life-size image of a new streetcar and a mockup of a streetcar shelter helped enliven the corner of 1900 Main St. as revelers started to gather in the Crossroads for Octobers First Fridays celebration.

Were very excited, said Amanda DeLeon, who lives in a condo at 18th Street and Baltimore Avenue and brought her 5-year-old daughter, Coco, to the event. Well be able to take it to the grocery story, the library, the City Market.

The city expects the streetcars to be operating by fall 2015 on the 2-mile route, running from the River Market to close to Union Station, primarily on Main Street.

A large crowd gathered to view the displays and think about how the Main Street corridor will be changed by the streetcars.

Were making history here in Kansas City, Mayor Sly James said, describing the streetcars as the most significant transportation project in this city in the last 50 years.

City officials unveiled renderings of what the streetcars will look like, although the actual colors have not yet been chosen.

The vehicle of choice is the URBOS 3 Platform Vehicle, built by CAF and manufactured in Elmira, N.Y. CAF has extensive rail transit experience in both the U.S. and Europe.

Public Works Director Sherri McIntyre said it made sense financially and in terms of the schedule to piggyback on a contract Cincinnati already has with CAF.

The city expects to buy four streetcars at a total cost of about $20 million. Each car will hold about 145 passengers. They will take about 18 months to be built after the contract is approved.

The entire streetcar system is expected to cost about $100 million, including design, construction and a vehicle maintenance facility at 600 E. Third St.

The City Council last month approved a contract with St. Joseph-based Herzog Contracting Corp. and California-based Stacy and Witbeck to manage the construction. Discussions between the city and the management team have started, and McIntyre said construction should begin by early next year.

Friday nights streetcar landscape unveiling was coordinated by Better Block KC, a nonprofit that helps redevelop communities and promotes transit. The project involved a collaboration between a variety of engineers, architects, transit advocates and others.

The displays were expected to be down by Saturday morning.

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