Published November 27th, 2023 at 12:30 PM1 minute read
By Kevin Collison
The new streetcar extension from Union Station to UMKC set to open in 2025 is being designed to have dedicated lanes each way the entire route, according to officials.
Acting on a request from the Kansas City Council, the authority is including dedicated lanes as part of an overall plan intended to tame Main to be a more pedestrian and transit-friendly street.
“We’re already taking Main Street from six lanes to four lanes,” said Tom Gerend, executive director of the Streetcar Authority.
“This is considering an opportunity to take those outside travel lanes where the streetcar will be running and sign them as dedicated, transit only….Seattle took the same approach.
“At the end of the day, there’s good opportunities where it will be much more pedestrian friendly.”
In August, the Council adopted a resolution directing City Manager Brian Platt to work with the Streetcar Authority to pursue dedicated lanes. The idea was not only help speed the streetcar on its Main Street extension, but calm traffic for pedestrians as well.
Gerend said the dedicated lanes won’t be physically separated from vehicular traffic with a barrier or curb, but painted and signed, an approach currently used in some locations for buses and bicycles.
“It’s sort of a light touch approach,” he said. “The advantage is your pushing the auto traffic to the middle lanes which makes the pedestrian experience better.
That “light touch” also will allow cars and trucks to access driveways along the route and make turns at intersections. A middle turn lane also is planned in some areas of Main.
In addition to the outer streetcar lanes, medians and bump-outs also are planned for Main Street. The idea is to improve the appearance of the important artery that connects the major nodes of the River-Crown-Plaza urban core.
The bump-outs along the route will allow for more landscaping and wider sidewalks, Some limited street parking also is planned for Main.
“It will be a dramatic visual transformation,” Gerend said.