SmartMoves is the Kansas City region’s vision for expanded and enhanced regional transit services. This vision took a big step forward with Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders’ announcement of an agreement with Union Pacific Railroad Company for options to buy two rail sections totaling nearly 21 miles. The total purchase price would be $59.9 million, a much lower amount than originally estimated.
The largest section of track is 15.5 miles along the Rock Island corridor, a Creating Sustainable Places demonstration corridor. This was also studied as part of the Jackson County Commuter Corridor Alternatives Analysis, which was conducted by a project team that included MARC, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, the city of Kansas City, Mo., and Jackson County, Mo. The Rock Island corridor begins in the heart of Kansas City, Mo., and follows the old Rock Island rail line through Raytown and Lee’s Summit.
Additional segments in the agreement with Union Pacific include the 1.9 mile Independence Power and Light spur and the 3.5 mile Pixley Spur near downtown Independence.
Raytown Mayor David Bower, co-chair of MARC’s Total Transportation Policy Committee, said that the announcement of the Memorandum of Understanding is a huge step in moving this project from a plan to implementation.
MARC’s Assistant Director of Transportation Tom Gerend affirmed the importance of this agreement. “This announcement is directly in line with our study of this corridor,” he said. “It does three important things — it creates a near-term opportunity to extend of the Katy Trail into Kansas City, Mo.; it allows for future transit use; and it directly supports local and regional land-use strategies.”
Going forward, project stakeholders and local governments will work together through the Rock Island Corridor Coalition to pursue federal and state funding opportunities that support project implementation.