Government & Politics

KC continues work to fund streetcar extension, hopes for federal grant next year

Kansas City’s proposed streetcar extension along Main Street wasn’t on a list of projects approved for federal grants this year, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be funded, officials said Thursday.

The Federal Transit Administration announced earlier this week a list of 16 ongoing and new projects around the country that it would fund with $1.36 billion in Capital Investment Grants.

Kansas City officials applied for those same funds to extend the two-mile streetcar line, which currently runs from the River Market south through downtown and the Crossroads Arts District to Union Station. The extension would continue along Main Street past the Country Club Plaza to the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

But officials said they weren’t expecting Kansas City to be on the most recent list of projects.

“This doesn’t mean we are not going to get federal funding,” said Donna Mandelbaum, a spokeswoman for the KC Streetcar Authority.

According to the FTA, the streetcar extension is only in the first “project development” phase of the program’s process. It must advance to the next step, engineering, before it can be awarded a grant.

“Until it completes the remaining steps in the process, it is not yet ready for consideration for a funding allocation,” the FTA statement says.

Mandelbaum said the authority hopes the streetcar project will be in the engineering phase by the end of this year.

In a news release, Tom Gerend, executive director, said the KC Streetcar Authority hoped to have a federal funding agreement by 2021.

The city, the KC Streetcar Authority and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority applied for the federal grant last year. It would cover $151 million of the $316 million project. Last month, the FTA gave the streetcar extension a”medium-high” rating, a critical step, but not a commitment to fund the project.

The rest of the funds would come from tax revenue generated by the transportation development district surrounding the streetcar line.

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Allison Kite reports on City Hall and local politics for The Star. She joined the paper in February 2018 and covered Midterm election races on both sides of the state line. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism with minors in economics and public policy from the University of Kansas.