Burns & McDonnell will lead the consulting team to study the feasibility of extending Kansas City’s downtown streetcar line north to Berkley Riverfront Park.
The team was selected by the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, in conjunction with Port KC and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. They are sharing the study cost, estimated at $225,000.
“The opportunity to better connect our city to our historic riverfront through streetcar and improved transit connections is a generational opportunity that could redefine Kansas City downtown in the years to come,” Streetcar Authority executive director Tom Gerend said in a news release Friday.
The primary study area extends from downtown and the River Market north to the Missouri River and Berkley Riverfront Park, where some new residential and mixed-use development is planned. The study area is bounded on the west by the ASB Bridge and on the east by the Bond Bridge.
The study, which should take about six months, will look at the feasibility of potential streetcar routes, connection options to other transit, cost and financing strategies.
The other team members include WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, Confluence, Dunbar Transportation Consulting, Hg Consult, Parson + Associates and Polsinelli.
Advocates wanted to study a northward extension because the downtown streetcar has had high ridership and gets at least partial credit for significant economic development and business activity along the route.
The streetcar, which now runs from the River Market to Union Station, continues to be popular, but ridership dipped considerably in November, the seventh month of operations. The average daily ridership since the streetcar began operations May 6 is 6,000, but for November it was 4,500. Still, that’s above the average daily ridership of 2,700 that planners had projected before the system started.
The northward feasibility study is not to be confused with an effort to extend the streetcar line southward toward the University of Missouri-Kansas City. That is being led by a group of transit activists and will require elections beginning in 2017.