Project Team Advances Track Alignment for KC Streetcar Main Street Extension to UMKC

Date:August 20, 2018

Kansas City, Mo., Aug. 20, 2018 – The KC Streetcar project team, consisting of the KC Streetcar Authority (KCSA), the KC Area Transportation Authority (KCATA), the City of Kansas City, MO (KCMO), and the consultant team led by HDR, Inc., has continued to advance the project planning for the Main Street Extension to UMKC, including work to refine streetcar stop locations, track alignments, and coordinated transit connections.

Based on the technical analyses, public feedback, and detailed evaluation of the merits of each lane placement, or track alignment (outside-running vs. center-running), the project team will be advancing the outside-running alternative into the next phase of detailed project design. 

“We understand the operational challenges with an outside-running streetcar, but have learned a lot with our downtown operation and are proud of our 93+% on-time performance,” said Tom Gerend, executive director of the KC Streetcar Authority.  “These lessons learned will be applied to our extension designs and result in an even better streetcar system going forward,” continued Gerend. 

The primary factors that led to the selection of outside-running include the following:

  • Pedestrian Needs: An outside-running alignment, with station-stops on the outside of the street, would offer a more pedestrian friendly environment and easier access to adjacent businesses while waiting for a streetcar. Public feedback strongly favored outside running for this reason.
  • Business Access: An outside-running alignment would better preserve left-turn vehicular access to/from businesses and properties along Main Street. In contrast, with the implementation of a median, a center-running alignment would significantly curtail such access.
  • Turn Restrictions: An outside-running alignment would allow intersection left-turn movements to be made whereas a center-running alignment, with medians and center platforms, would have the potential to completely prohibit intersection left-turns at up to nine locations.
  • Bus Integration: Station stops on the outside of the street can be designed for shared-use with buses and better support bus bridging when necessary. A center-running alignment would generally preclude such sharing because buses only have doors on their right sides.
  • On-Street Parking/Loading:  Preliminary concepts indicate that an outside-running alignment could allow for as much as 20-percent more on-street parking/loading capacity than a center-running alignment, due to the inclusion of a raised median in the center-running option. The raised median consumes width within some portions of the corridor where the outside-running alternative can operate without a width-consuming center turn lane.  
  • Consistency: Station-stops on the outside of the street are consistent with the existing system and with passenger expectations.

“This is an important step to advancing the project,” said Robbie Makinen, president and CEO, KC Area Transportation Authority. “Making the alignment selection enables us to begin the process of applying for federal funding,” Makinen continued.

This outside running track alignment decision will be implemented largely for the portion of the extension from Union Station to 45th Street. The section of route between 45th Street and Volker Boulevard will undergo additional evaluation, and the southernmost route section between Volker Boulevard and 51st Street is planned to use the Country Club right-of-way.

“In order to build the best streetcar extension for Kansas City and position us to compete for federal funding, we looked closely at community needs, equitable access to service, operational efficiency, and cost as key alignment considerations,” said Gerend. 

Along with the track alignment, the streetcar stop locations for the Main Street Extension are as follows: 

  • 27th Street
  • 31st Street
  • Armour Boulevard
  • 39th Street
  • 43rd Street 
  • 45th Street
  • Cleaver Boulevard/ Ward Parkway
  • 51st Street

A full report about the analysis and design work for the proposed streetcar stop locations and track alignment, including images of streetcars traveling through midtown, are located on the KC Streetcar website,

The planning for the KC Streetcar Main Street Extension continues with the necessary environmental work and development of a funding strategy prior to moving forward in design. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) previously authorized the KC Streetcar Main Street Extension for “Project Development”, which is now largely complete. The next step in the federal process is to submit the project for a rating and to request a commitment of federal funds to the project. The rating submittal will include refined capital and operating costs, ridership estimates, and a funding plan. 

Streetcar south on Main to UMKC