By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
Thursday was a big day for Kansas City - city officials held the official groundbreaking for the new downtown streetcar line and the city is already working on plans to expand the line to reach more parts of the city.
Crews pulled out the big machinery and dug into the ground at Truman Road and Main Street in downtown Kansas City. It was the first official groundbreaking on the $100 million Kansas City streetcar project that's set to start running from the River Market area to Union Station in early 2016.
The first phase consists of two parts. The first step is to clear a line for the streetcar and second to tear up and rebuild a century-old water and sewer system in downtown.
Some people who live downtown say they welcome the new streetcar. Gene and Joy Cota moved downtown from Brookside six years ago. They said they like what's happening in downtown and they really like the new streetcar.
"I think people are ready for it. I think we need more options in transit. I think the younger generation is going to demand it in the next few years and I think we have to build this for the future, not for today," Joy Cota said.
Kansas City, MO, Mayor Sly James said, despite the critics, the project is driving Kansas City forward.
"I really can't wait to see it rolling down the street, it's going to change the complexion of this city," he said.
As crews dug into the future, they found a bit of the past with an original track from the old streetcar that ended in Kansas City in 1957.
Lifelong Kansas Citian John Donnell used to operate the old streetcar. He turned 100 this week and said it's about time the mode of transportation is back.
"They'll hold probably 150 at a time, up to 200. That's a lot more than the bus," Donnell said.
Future riders say they already have plans for the streetcar.
"I live and work downtown and have meetings at Union Station, so I'm excited to be able to hop on this for free and quickly ride to Union Station and if I want to go to the River Market for lunch this would be another option," said Jared Campbell who lives downtown.
The mayor also said businesses are already investing $750 million in downtown, like with the new Marriott Hotel that's set to be built just feet from the construction site. The mayor said it's all thanks to the new streetcar.
The streetcar is not without its critics. The St. Louis-based Show-Me Institute calls the project a waste of money.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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