Monday, June 11, 2012

Blight Rail - Connecting Crown Center and Power and Light District

Jack Cashill has a nice analysis of the proposed streetcar / pseudo-light rail system connecting Crown Center to the Power and Blight District.  Proponents argue we need to find a way to connect these two revitalized areas to make it easier for shoppers and travelers to get around.

It's taken decades, but there is finally stuff to do in downtown KC.  The Crown Center area features a mall with unique shops you won't find in other ares of the metro, the new, although underwhelming, Sea Life Aquarium, Discovery LegoLand, Science City, Union Station Museum/office park, and the Liberty/WWI Memorial.  Power & Blight has the famously tennantless Sprint Center, a lot of bars and restaurants, a very nice but under performing movie theatre, and a handful of boutique shops.  With more than 1,000 hotel rooms in the immediate vicinity, it makes perfect since to want to connect these two areas.

Cashill makes a great point about the likelihood corruption would be rampant in any streetcar construction project.  More importantly, he notes the distance between the two areas is less than a mile.  Having been down there frequently over the last few weeks, I'd have to agree.  The distance hardly warrants the tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars such a system would cost.

Here's a nice little map illustrating the less than a mile distance between the two areas:

Are Kansas Citians really that lazy that they can't walk down this street?

It seems to me, that if they are that lazy, a special bus line running from the Crown Center end of Grand Blvd to P&L and back every 10 or 15 minutes would solve all the problems.  In the meantime, businesses will naturally grow along the boulevard as they realize they can capitalize on the pedestrian traffic, all for a fraction of the cost of the proposed rail/streetcar systems without destroying taffic flow.


smoore123 said...

I have not seen a single compelling, evidence-based argument for construction of light rail or street cars in Kansas City. In cities with higher density and greater congestion I suppose it could makes sense. I'd like to see KC have a lot more people living in the urban core before we make such a huge infrastructure investment.

Joe White said...

Any successful light rail line/system must focus on serving commuters (i.e. a large number of regular daily fares) and not tourists or occasional sight-seers and shoppers.

Devise a system that brings people efficiently to the top 10 employers in the city. Then we'll have something to talk about. Until then, forget it.