President Donald Trump’s proposed budget could eliminate one funding source for a possible expansion of Kansas City’s streetcar line.
Trump’s budget, which would go into effect in October if Congress approves it, would eliminate the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, a nearly $500 million grant program run by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Kansas City was awarded a $20 million TIGER grant in 2013 to help pay for the downtown streetcar line, covering about one-fifth of the more than $100 million project’s total cost.
Sherri McIntyre, the city’s director of public works, said Kansas City would most likely look to the program again as a source of funding for the possible expansion of the street car, something that has been discussed.
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“It is a potential funding source for any of the large scale projects,” she said. McIntyre explained that the grant process requires a cost-benefit analysis that shows the number of jobs that would be created by projects before they can be approved.
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat, voiced concern about the loss of TIGER grants and transportation cuts in Trump’s budget, which total $2.4 billion.
“What will really make the Kansas City business community uncomfortable is that when you start cutting a lot of this money out of the transportation budget you’re going to end up eliminating any kind of help you’d get for a new airport,” Cleaver said Thursday. “This pretty much eliminates that possibility in terms of the help coming from the federal government.”
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, has also warned against cuts to transportation funding.
“Our lack of investment in infrastructure has consequences both in terms of safety and our ability to compete in the global economy,” Moran said the day before the budget’s release.
“There isn’t a town or county in Kansas that doesn’t have a problem with a road or a bridge,” said Moran, noting that the problem has been exacerbated by the state’s budget problems. In a statement after the budget’s release, Moran, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said that he will work with colleagues to thoughtfully prioritize spending.
Eight Missouri projects have been approved since 2009 for a total of $133.5 million in federal aid, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s website lists four Kansas projects since 2010 that total $54.3 million.
Brianna Landon, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Transportation, said that the agency has not planned or budgeted any future projects based on future TIGER grant funding.
A $50 million TIGER grant awarded to the Mid-America Regional Council went to infrastructure projects on both sides of the state line, including constructing new transit stations in Kansas City, Kan., and improving sidewalks on Kansas City’s East Side.
Gordon Criswell, assistant county administrator for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County, said that the county had hoped to apply for TIGER funds to implement a Bus Rapid Transit route in Kansas City, Kan., in the future.
Linsay Wise, the Star’s Washington correspondent, contributed to this report.