KC Streetcar hosts final open day ahead of expansion

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Streetcar Authority held an open house Wednesday night ahead of a scheduled grand opening next week on a $351 million line extension.

Phil Thomas uses the 2.2 miles of existing streetcar line as many people do between Union Station and River Market.

“Let’s take the tram to see the city really quickly and then get back to our cars,” Thomas said.

But now he’s hunting for a condo in the Westport area along the 3.5-mile Main Street Extension that opens Wednesday, April 6 at 11 a.m.

“Now the tram will follow the lifeline, along the culture, more shops and everyday useful things,” Thomas said.

The KC Streetcar Authority expects the area between Union Station and UMKC along Main Street to improve as the streetcar enters.

KC Streetcar Authority communications director Donna Mandelbaum said the downtown corridor has seen $4 billion in associated development. The extension has brought in $500 million over the past year, though Main Street has been torn up for sewer and utility upgrades.

Construction on the track and eight new stops will be made in north-south segments for the next 2.5 years.

“It’s always going to be a traffic headache, but we’re going to do everything we can to work with our downtown businesses and our main street businesses and residents to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. possible,” Mandelbaum said. .

Streetcar driver James Bibens said it still has a long way to go before anyone compares it to the New York City Subway or the Chicago El, but considers the new line a good start.

“I think that brings it closer to a really convenient mode of transportation,” he said.

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