Commuter rail and express-bus service recommended for I-70 and Rock Island corridors

Around 100 people attended an open house on Nov. 27 at River Market Event Place to learn about draft recommendations for enhancing transit service in the I-70 and Rock Island corridors in Jackson County. The event was hosted by Jackson County, Mo.; Kansas City Area Transportation Authority; Kansas City, Mo.; and MARC. Study team partners also sought feedback on the most recent analysis of transit service options for the U.S. 71/Bruce R. Watkins corridor. And there were information stations about the downtown streetcar project and bicycle/pedestrian facility investments for Jackson County. Review open house materials

The Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis has evaluated all reasonable options during the last year to identify the types of transit service that could serve locally identified needs, the routes they should follow, and financial strategies to support construction and ongoing operations. Identification of a locally preferred alternative is a required step if the region decides to seek federal money to build the project in the future.

The same type of evaluation is underway for the U.S. 71 corridor. Both studies have been carefully coordinated with each other and the streetcar project in downtown Kansas City, Mo. All are part of a comprehensive effort to implement the region’s Smart Moves vision for expanded and enhanced transit service.

Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis

This study began during the summer of 2011. The east corridor generally parallels Interstate 70, serving downtown Kansas City, Mo., Independence and Blue Springs. The southeast corridor generally parallels Missouri Highway 350, serving Kansas City, Mo., Raytown and Lee’s Summit.

During the planning process, the project partners, stakeholders and the public concluded that a successful transit solution for the east and southeast corridors must meet needs for improved transportation, economic development and sustainability.

The study team evaluated express bus, bus rapid transit, enhanced streetcar and diesel multiple unit (self-propelled rail car) alternatives to determine their effectiveness at meeting the identified needs. The evaluation also included cost, potential ridership, constructability, environmental impacts, traffic impacts and equity. The screening process included two decision points where alternatives were reduced.

In the end, a draft locally preferred alternative with a long-term goal of diesel multiple unit (DMU) in both corridors is recommended as the best option for meeting the diverse needs in the two corridors. In addition, a recreational trail would be built adjacent to the Rock Island corridor in the southeast. A phased approach would be necessary, with enhanced express bus as an immediate step, followed by acquisition of key corridors and, finally, implementation of the DMU rail strategy.

Phase 1:
DMU service along I-70 corridor between River Market in Kansas City, Mo., and Oak Grove, as well as near-term express bus in the I-70 and MO 350 corridors, and a recreational trail along Rock Island corridor

Construction cost = $327–$434 million
Annual operating cost = $10.7 million
End-to-end travel time: 35 min 15 sec
Estimated daily ridership = 1,150–2,800

Phase 2:
DMU service along Rock Island corridor between I-70 line and Lee’s Summit

Construction cost = $170–$225 million
Annual operating cost = $4.3 million
End-to-end travel time: 22 min 59 sec
Estimated daily ridership = 500–1,000

Financing Strategy
In order to implement the long-term DMU strategy, a specific funding source will need to be identified. While a number of financial tools exist, the study team has identified a county-wide sales tax increase as a feasible mechanism for supporting the construction, operations and maintenance of the services.

U.S. 71 Transit Study

The U.S. 71 Transit Study is evaluating how to enhance transit options along the U.S. 71/Bruce R. Watkins corridor between downtown Kansas City, Mo., and Grandview. The study team met with stakeholders and the public in August to help refine the needs for this corridor. The team considered this feedback along with technical data to help narrow the range of alternatives to a few still under consideration. Each alternative is being evaluated according to its ability to address three major needs within the corridor: transportation/mobility, economic development/land use, and sustainability/livability.

Bus rapid transit on U.S. 71, with parallel MAX (Metro Area Express) service on Prospect Avenue
Construction cost = $40–$55 million
Annual operating cost = $2.8 million
End-to-end travel time = 33 min 24 sec
Estimated daily ridership = 1,200–2,000

DMU service running parallel to U.S. 71, with MAX bus service on Prospect Avenue
Construction cost = $81–$150 million
Annual operating cost = $11.4 million
End-to-end travel time = 28 min 20 sec
Estimated daily ridership = 500–1,000

Next Steps for the Studies

  • Complete the U.S. 71 Transit Study by identifying a locally preferred alternative for this corridor in early 2013.
  • Finalize negotiations with partner railroads in 2013.
  • Initiate further project development, such as any required environmental study and conceptual engineering.
  • Plan for circulation bus services in suburban communities to provide access to stations along the I-70 and Rock Island corridors in suburban communities.

For more information, contact Tom Gerend.


JCCCAA_LPA_Animation_Jackson County Commuter Corridors AA: Draft Locally Preferred Alternatives

U.S. 71 Transit Study: Tier 2 Evaluation

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