Mayor: Streetcar project proceeds despite funding announcement - KCTV5 News

Mayor: Streetcar project proceeds despite funding announcement

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Federal officials informed the mayor on Tuesday that Kansas City will not be one of the recipients for this year's grants.

The 2012 TIGER IV program received 703 grant applications totaling $10.2 billion in requests. The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a little less than $500 million in this round. TIGER IV was highly competitive with 703 applications submitted.

"We are obviously disappointed, but not deterred. Kansas City is not giving up on this project. We move forward immediately by applying for a grant under the revised Small Starts program of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and will continue to get our local financing package firmly in place," Mayor Sly James said in a written statement.

James said the city will keep working to make streetcars a reality in the very near term.

"It is increasingly clear in today's political and economic climate in Washington — if we want something done we will need to do it ourselves. We can and will make this happen," he said.

City Councilman Russ Johnson, chairman of the city's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said the city needs enhanced and efficient transit options, built in the context of a sprawling city of 316-square-miles.

"With the complicated realities of Kansas City in mind, which comes first - the local funding or the federal grant? This is a constant struggle for our city and other communities. In this case, despite a very strong application, the Department of Transportation wants to see the local funding in place first," Johnson said in a written statement. "While this leaves a gap in the initial funding model, it has always been up to us to decide how to make a downtown modern streetcar work for Kansas City."

Johnson said the city took its best shot and fell short.

"It just means we have to be even more creative," Johnson said.

Planning for the downtown modern streetcar is proceeding. Ballots to establish the Transportation Development District have been mailed to downtown residents and are due July 31.

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