Kansas City streetcars facing another delay - KCTV5

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Kansas City streetcars facing another delay

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The streetcar track work is completed, and the electrical wiring is expected to be ready by the end of September. (KCTV5 News, File) The streetcar track work is completed, and the electrical wiring is expected to be ready by the end of September. (KCTV5 News, File)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV/AP) -

Kansas City's new $102 million streetcar project is suffering a big bump in the road.

The company making the actual streetcars is more than two months late delivering them, and it could mean the system won't be operating in time for next March's Big 12 men's basketball tournament.

The Spanish company known as CAF was expected to deliver some of the vehicles on June 10. The company told the city earlier this year it would not make that deadline and instead would deliver the cars in late September.

The city says that will still fit with the construction schedule and has been charging the company $2,500 every day the streetcars are late.

The streetcar track work is completed, and the electrical wiring is expected to be ready by the end of September.

But City Manager Troy Schulte said the four streetcars, which together cost about $18 million, may not be finished until the end of the year, and that may not be enough time to start the service in March.

"Our reaction is that is completely unacceptable," said Communications Director Chris Hernandez. "We're ready to accept delivery of our streetcars so we want our streetcars."

The four cars are being built in Elmira, NY, to qualify for federal funding. Getting items shipped from Spain to New York was delayed by more than a month when the manufacturer missed a transatlantic boat ride.

Mayor Sly James has said it's crucial that the new two-mile downtown streetcar system can carry passengers in time for the Big 12 men's basketball tournament next year, which is expected to draw to draw thousands of visitors to downtown.

Businesses along the streetcar have seen their bottom line hit by construction.

Martin Heuser, owner of Affäre restaurant at 19th and Main streets, said he has struggled because customers have a hard time getting in and out of the restaurant due to construction.

"We were down $25,000. And then this month we had a big lunch function for 70 people which got canceled because of the ongoing construction and how hard it would be for the customers to get to the restaurant," he said.

Heuser said he's worried about the delays continuing to affect his bottom line.

"I don't know if I can make it that long," he said about the Big 12 tournament. "I just don't know."

Vaurn Narisetti is someone who has been waiting with high expectations for the completed streetcar.  

"It's a problem, but it's well worth waiting for," he said. "Most metropolitan cities have a street cars. A lot of people come in cars and have difficulty parking, so streetcars will solve the problem I think."

CAF officials haven't responded publicly to the criticism from city officials.

KCTV5's Laura McCallister contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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