By Paul Thompson
Kansas City has just secured a $20 million federal grant that will make a downtown streetcar a reality.
The Department of Transportation announced $474 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) federal grants last Thursday, September 5, and Kansas City’s $20 million for their proposed downtown streetcar was the largest approved project. 52 projects in 37 states were accepted, after almost $9 billion of TIGER funds were applied for.
“We’re on a roll in Kansas City and the taxpayers in our community can be pleased and proud that what we’re doing here is being recognized nationally,” said U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II in a Thursday press release. “This tremendous grant will bring new jobs, new business growth, and a renewed sense of community and progress to the already invigorated region.”
On the other end of the spectrum, the city of Grandview saw their $14 million TIGER request passed over. Grandview Public Works Director Dennis Randolph had requested the funds in order to build vehicle and pedestrian
bridges across I-49. The idea would be to increase connectivity to the city that is split in half by the interstate. Although Grandview did not get the funding they were hoping for this time, Randolph said that the city would still benefit from having the project ready to go if and when another grant opportunity presents itself.
“One of the things I’ve been trying to do over the past couple of years, as we go after grants, is to get a package of projects available,” said Randolph. “You always have to have a list of projects that you can apply for. If you’re ready, it makes it a lot easier to jump through all the hoops.”
Randolph noted that the need for connectivity across I-49 is only going to increase over the next several years, as development continues along Main Street, Truman’s Marketplace, and 150 Highway. As those developments proceed, the city’s chances of earning a significant connectivity grant should increase exponentially. And Randolph will not rest until his project becomes a reality.
“The justification keeps going up,” said Randolph. “Those were nice projects, and they tell a compelling story. But our story is only going to get better over the next four or five years. We’re ready. I’m not going to stop until we get the money.”