Kansas City Downtown Streetcar project proceeds despite TIGER funding announcement

Work is underway to find innovative ways to fund and complete the project

This afternoon, Mayor James was informed by federal officials that Kansas City will not be one of the grantees for this year’s TIGER IV grants.The 2012 TIGER IV program received 703 grant applications totalling $10.2 billion in requests. The USDOT awarded a little less than $500 million in this round. TIGER IV was highly competitive with 703 applications from all 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

“We are obviously disappointed, but not deterred. Kansas City is not giving up on this project.  We move forward immediately by applying for an grant under the revised Small Starts program of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and will continue to get our local financing package firmly in place. We may not have gotten this grant, but we will keep working to make this a reality in the very near term,” said Mayor Sly James.  “It is increasingly clear in today’s political and economic climate in Washington — if we want something done we will need to do it ourselves. We can and will make this happen.”

“We need enhanced and efficient transit options, built in the context of a sprawling city of 316-square-miles. With the complicated realities of Kansas City in mind, which comes first the local funding or the federal grant? This is a constant struggle for our city, and other communities. In this case, despite a very strong application, the Department of Transportation wants to see the local funding in place first. While this leaves a gap in the initial funding model, it has always been up to us to decide how to make a downtown modern streetcar work for Kansas City. We took our best shot and fell short. It just means we have to be even more creative,” said City Councilman Russ Johnson,  Chairman of the City’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Planning for the downtown modern streetcar is proceeding. Ballots to establish the Transportation Development District have been mailed to downtown residents and are due July 31, 2012. Firm cost estimates for the line are taking shape and a committee has been appointed to establish the governance model. The city has partnered to develop and launch Neighbor.ly, a crowdfunding platform for the streetcar project. Discussion and strategies for alternatives to TIGER grant funding have been proceeding and now take on new urgency.

Contact: Danny Rotert: 816-513-6581 or cell: 816-547-6418