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Streetcar Riverfront Extension Cost Surges 75% Increase to $61.1 Million

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Above image credit: Rails already have been delivered to the riverfront for the extension of the KC Streetcar. (Kevin Collison | CityScene)
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2 minute read

The cost of extending the streetcar line to the riverfront has jumped 75% to $61.1 million, forcing local funders to bump up their contributions and also seek private donations.

As recently as May, the projected cost of the seven-tenths-mile extension from the River Market to the midpoint of Berkley Riverfront Park was $35 million. But additions to the project plus huge jumps in transit construction costs torpedoed that figure.

“It has gotten more expensive, without a doubt,” said Tom Gerend, executive director of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority. “There’s been a significant escalation in costs and we’re also buying more project.”

Gerend said project add-ons include extending it closer to the KC Current soccer stadium, building double tracks between the riverfront and streetcar maintenance facility and larger than anticipated costs laying tracks on the Grand Viaduct.

The plan to extend the KC Streetcar to the riverfront using the Grand Boulevard viaduct also includes building a parallel pedestrian/bike bridge.
The plan to extend the KC Streetcar to the riverfront using the Grand Boulevard viaduct also includes building a parallel pedestrian/bike bridge. (Courtesy | Confluence)

On Monday, the Port KC board approved increasing its initial contribution from $8.5 million to $10.7 million. Port KC also has established a nonprofit called KC CORE to accept charitable contributions to the streetcar extension project.

“KC CORE (is) a Missouri nonprofit corporation that exists, in part, for the purpose of funding multimodal transportation projects and connecting people to Berkley Riverfront,” according to Port KC.

Port KC already is negotiating at least one private donation for the project, but officials declined to identify the prospective donor.

Gerend estimated the federal government through various transportation grants will contribute $35 million toward the final construction cost of the riverfront extension.

Map showing KC Streetcar extension to the riverfront.
The streetcar extension will go seven-tenths of a mile from the River Market to the midpoint of the south side of Berkley Park. (Map | KC Streetcar Authority)

The remaining $15.4 million of the local share is expected to be provided by the KC Streetcar Authority and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority.

Gerend said the authority anticipates a construction contract for the extension will be completed by year’s end and work should start soon in the new year. The project is expected to be completed in 2025.

In addition, the authority expects to begin receiving the first of eight additional streetcars in mid-January. That will bring the number of cars to 14, allowing the authority to serve a 6.5-mile route that will eventually run from the University of Missouri-Kansas City to the riverfront.

Flatland contributor Kevin Collison is the founder of CityScene KC, an online source for downtown news and issues.

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