To Nobody’s Surprise, Riverfront Extension of Kansas City Streetcar Going over Budget
It’s the viral crossover no one asked for and no one needs—high inflation and government waste. But here in Kansas City, it’s a mashup we’re getting anyway with the extension of the streetcar to the riverfront.
The question: how much over the $34.9 million budgeted for the project could 0.7 miles of rail cost taxpayers? The answer: another $10 million, and possibly more:
“We determined that both of the (contractors) were qualified, the technical proposals were sound, but their costs were above the estimate, and both of their costs were above the budget, significantly so,” KCATA Deputy CEO Dick Jarrold said during a Tuesday presentation to the agency’s Finance Committee. The KCATA is one of four groups heading the riverfront streetcar project, alongside Kansas City, the Kansas City Streetcar Authority and Port Authority of Kansas City. . . .
The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) has authorized about $9.6 million in additional federal dollars for the riverfront streetcar through the Surface Transportation Block Grant program, and a MARC committee has recommended an additional $1 million in federal Carbon Reduction program grant funds. The programs require local matching funds, which Jarrold said are anticipated from Port KC and the Streetcar Authority in an as-yet undetermined amount. [emphasis mine]
Keep in mind that the estimate for the original plan to extend the streetcar to the riverfront was $22.2 million, meaning the apparent final (?) cost of the line is on course to double that estimate, with or without the local match considered.
Yet, that’s been the track record for this toy train for over a decade now. I wrote here in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and for Forbes in 2014 that the Kansas City streetcar was a profligate and bad idea. And yet, despite the many opportunities to prove naysayers wrong, the streetcar remains a remarkably poor fiscal and policy decision to this day.