Double Trouble: Kansas City Considers Extending Trolley Line To Plaza
It seems like only yesterday that I was calling Kansas City’s trolley plans a slow motion train wreck, yet the city appears to have already outdone itself in recent hours; not a foot of track has been laid downtown, and plans are already underway to more than double the size of the project and extend the proposed streetcar line south another 3 miles to the Country Club Plaza.
What could go wrong?
Councilman Russ Johnson has filed a resolution that would direct City Manager Troy Schulte to apply for a Federal Transit Administration grant to study extending the proposed streetcar line to the Country Club Plaza and University of Missouri-Kansas City area.
The current proposal has the line running a 2.2-mile route from River Market to Crown Center. The second leg would add a little more than three miles.
City officials apparently feel they need to go straight to ludicrous speed with this crazy train proposal, but basically all of the same objections apply to the new plan as the old. Kansas City’s streetcar plan attempts to satisfy a market demand for transit that does not exist along the proposed route and will cost at least — and now, potentially far more than — $100 million to get off the ground. In addition, despite city promises, the plan will make the city less competitive, not more competitive, with a spike in local taxes.
Is this really what Kansas City needs to be investing in right now? The Kansas City Star‘s Yael Abouhalkah recently noted that Kansas City has the second-worst debt service burden among the largest cities in the region and one of the highest tax burdens. Why would the city aggravate concerns that are already making it less competitive, and why on Earth would they double down on such a plan?