Thursday, December 13, 2012

Kansas City OKs streetcar, hires HDR Inc.

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Kansas City OKs streetcar, hires HDR Inc. HDR Inc.

Eligible voters in a special assessment district have approved plans for a two-mile streetcar line to run through downtown Kansas City, Mo.

Voting results, released Wednesday, show 358 votes, or 63% of the 549 votes cast, approved two tax measures to generate local funding. One is a one-cent sales tax increase; the second would increase property taxes in the assessed district by roughly 5%.

The starter line would run from River Market to Union Station, mostly along Main Street.

Kansas City hopes to begin construction next year and start running the streetcars in 2015. Project approval follows years of false starts and several failed initiatives during the past decade to advance streetcars or light rail transit, with most (though not all) such efforts rejected by voters citywide.

“This is going to be a game changer for our city, especially our downtown,” City Councilwoman Jan Marcason said to local media.

The City Council late Thursday approved a $3.6 million contract with Omaha-based engineering firm HDR Inc. for the final design of the main components of the streetcar line. A second ordinance, also approve, grants Kansas City the authority to to sell $30 million in bonds to help pay for construction. Both HDR Inc. and URS Corp. had responded to the city's Request For Proposals, issued before the vote tally was finalized. HDR worked with the city as a consultant on the streetcar project.

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