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After years of delays, the $43 million Loop Trolley is back on track. With design changes made and funding questions resolved, construction of the trolley is set to begin in March.
Project officials said Tuesday work will start at the western end of the 2-mile streetcar line that will run between the Delmar Loop and Forest Park. Loop businessman Joe Edwards began promoting the project more than a decade ago.
Officials said the project is scheduled for completion in mid-2016 and, after test runs, it will begin service late next year.
First on the construction list involves work aimed at improving car traffic: rebuilding the existing roundabout near the Lion Gates at Trinity Avenue and Delmar Boulevard. Chris Poehler, administrator of the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District, said the roundabout is designed to increase car safety, improve traffic flow and provide an attractive Loop entrance.
Track work is expected to start in late May, beginning on Delmar near Kingsland Avenue. Vehicular traffic will continue during construction.
Poehler, an engineer and transit planner on loan to the Loop Trolley from the Metro transit agency, said the project has overcome many obstacles.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “It’s taken a significant effort by a lot of people.
“We’re very excited we’re going to be starting this project soon and bringing a great amenity to the people of this region.”
Skeptics of the project have said the streetcar would clog vehicular traffic on Delmar and attract few riders. Some added that the area’s two MetroLink stations already provide adequate public transit.
Mainly to cut costs, the Loop Trolley has undergone some design changes.
The route between the University City Public Library and the History Museum in Forest Park is a bit shorter than first envisioned. The line will have 10 stops along Delmar and DeBaliviere Avenue.
Streetcars able to operate on both battery power and overhead electric lines were dropped in favor of cars powered by overhead lines.
In addition, instead of having a turnaround at both ends of the line, streetcars will travel to one terminus, then reverse direction. Poehler said the vintage-looking streetcars will have cabs at both ends to allow drivers to operate them in either direction.
Much like the streetcar line that operated on Delmar decades ago, Loop Trolley track will allow streetcars to run with traffic between the University City library and the Delmar MetroLink station. There, the line will transition to a single track in the median until it turns south on DeBaliviere.
Vehicular traffic on DeBaliviere will be shifted to one side to allow streetcars to operate on their own single-track right of way next to an extension of the Great River Greenway’s St. Vincent recreational trail.
Poehler said Loop Trolley officials project annual ridership of 394,000.
More than half of project’s funding is a nearly $25 million Federal Transit Administration grant awarded in 2010. FTA officials, unhappy with the Loop Trolley’s progress, had threatened to withdraw the grant before Poehler joined the project about 18 months ago and accelerated planning.
In addition to FTA money, federal funding sources are grants from the Federal Highway Administration Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality Improvement Program and Surface Transportation Program.
Other funding comes from the Great Rivers Greenway, a 1-cent sales tax within trolley district boundaries, about $15 million in tax credits, tax-increment financing and, so far, about $500,000 in private contributions.
Contractors include KCI Construction Co. for track and other infrastructure, Wissehr Electrical Contractors for the trolley overhead contact system and lighting and KCI Construction Co. for rehab of the maintenance building in the old Delmar High School in St. Louis. Kwame Building Group is the construction manager.
Owners of a recently opened Loop business are pleased to see the streetcar advance from planning to construction.
Jack Noecker, general manager of the Good Pie, which relocated last year to 6665 Delmar from midtown, said the streetcar will bring more people to the Loop’s western end.
“We’re happy to have it,” he said. “We’re all for it, as a matter of fact.”
Jeremy Kohler of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this story.
(Kansas City, Mo. – Feb 18, 2015) Joe Reardon, former Mayor/CEO of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Ks., has been selected as the new President & CEO of the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA).
Robbie Makinen, Chairman of the KCATA Board of Commissioners, announced today that Reardon, currently an attorney at Kansas City-based law firm McAnany, Van Cleave & Phillips, will take the helm of the regional transit agency in mid-March.
“Joe Reardon is uniquely qualified to take this organization forward,” Makinen said. “We intend to realize our vision of becoming a fully integrated, regional transit system and Joe has demonstrated an ability to cross state lines and build coalitions to advance important issues. We are honored and privileged to have a leader of Joe’s caliber at the helm.”
As Mayor & CEO, Reardon led Kansas City, Ks., and Wyandotte County on a continued economic renaissance, including the opening of the first new grocery store in the city in 30 years, the Sporting Park Soccer Stadium/Cerner office project, and the Village West Luxury Apartments Complex.
Reardon is an advocate of public transportation, credited for the introduction of Sunday bus service in Kansas City, Ks., still the only community in Kansas to provide any regular bus service on Sundays. Under his leadership as Mayor, the first major transit center in the history of the city was built, and a strong partnership with KCATA was forged to support several other significant transportation projects through an FTA TIGER grant.
In addition to being a strong supporter of public transit in the Kansas City region, Reardon has been a proponent of bi-state, regional cooperation. Perhaps most familiar to the region, Reardon negotiated the first Google Fiber development agreement in the country, successfully competing against over 1,100 municipalities that had submitted proposals to Google for the project. He then worked with Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James to create the bi-state innovations team to bridge the gap between the two cities and states to look for creative ways to leverage Google Fiber across the region.
Joe currently teaches an MBA class on regionalism and has partnered with Rockhurst University, the Greater Kansas City Chamber and others to support a regional forum for chief elected officials from across the Greater Kansas City area.
“I am honored by the trust the KCATA Board of Commissioners is placing in me,” said Reardon. “Regional transit faces a good many challenges in the days and years ahead, but I can’t think of a more worthy mission. Public transportation is the glue that holds communities together. I look forward to working with our partners throughout the region to secure public transit’s financial sustainability, and to build a more dynamic and integrated regional transit system.”
The national search for the President & CEO was conducted by EFL Associates. The selection process included input from transit customers and regional stakeholders. The selection panel consisted of a bi-state committee of KCATA board commissioners.
Reardon succeeds Mark Huffer, who resigned as General Manager of the KCATA last August.
February 5, 2015
MoDOT Director Dave Nichols has advised the Commission of his intent to retire from MoDOT effective May 1, 2015. According to Dave, “It is time.” Dave has been eligible for retirement for several years. Two years ago, following Director Kevin Keith’s retirement, the Commission asked Dave to step up from his position as chief engineer and take on the role of director. Ever loyal and committed to MoDOT, Dave did not hesitate. As someone who naturally avoids the spotlight and is more interested in the success of the team than his own advancement, I am sure that he would have been quite happy to remain as chief engineer and support the work of another, but he responded to our call. Even though he was eligible for retirement at the time, he agreed to a two-year commitment. He has given us that and more.
There is never a good time, it seems, for a change in directors, but Dave has set MoDOT on a good course. As chief engineer and then as director he helped to oversee the downsizing of the organization. The Bolder Five-Year Direction which officially ends March 1 has resulted in savings that put more than $600 million back on the roads over the last five years. The financial crisis MoDOT now faces would have been much worse but for this effort. Given his empathy for MoDOT employees, this was a very difficult process. He has deep affection for the men and women of what he calls “Team MoDOT.”
Dave worked tirelessly to support efforts to provide new funding for transportation. He led the formulation of MoDOT’s long-range transportation plan and the “On The Move” campaign to identify needs across all modes of transportation. He understood the importance of promoting diversity within MoDOT and on MoDOT projects, offering job training and creating economic opportunities for the disadvantaged.
Dave provided valuable assistance to the General Assembly which ultimately led to a bipartisan vote to place Amendment 7 on the ballot. He then traveled to every corner of the state to answer questions and address the concerns of Missourians.
After Amendment 7 failed, Dave spearheaded the development of “Missouri’s 325 System” which the Commission approved yesterday. It provides a disciplined, principled and equitable way to prioritize and allocate limited transportation funds. As I write, he continues to work with the General Assembly and the Governor regarding possible funding options to avoid reductions in services.
Dave has been a passionate advocate for safety. Over his tenure, fatalities on Missouri roads have declined to historic lows. But he continues to urge that such an achievement is not good enough – every life is precious.
Over his career he has been a builder of bridges – in both the literal and figurative sense. Dave has served in assignments throughout the state and during that time he was responsible for projects which spanned rivers and roads which connected communities, but he also bridged the gap that separated groups with sometimes competing interests and has forged valuable partnerships with stakeholders throughout the state: contractors, engineers, labor, business, cities, counties, chambers of commerce etc. He has put his indelible stamp upon the MoDOT culture.
After 31 years of service he has earned the right to select the time that is right for him. Dave has left MoDOT a better organization than he found it for which the Commission is forever grateful. Even with limited funding, the organization itself has never been better positioned. Challenges lie ahead but Dave has helped to chart a path and has fostered a team that is well equipped for the challenges.
The Commission knows well that Dave will remain 100 percent committed until his departure on May 1. There is much he still wants to accomplish, including some progress this legislative session on the funding issue. In the interim, the Commission will have an opportunity to plan for the selection of a new director. As the Commission defines that process, I will share it with you.
Please join me in congratulating Dave Nichols on a job well done and thanking him for his service.
Stephen R. Miller
Thursday, February 5, 2015
Russellville has been awarded a transportation alternative grant by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Central District.
The $116,484 grant funds will be used for sidewalk improvements on Route C, Smith Street and Marion Street to provide improved access to the elementary and middle schools.
The sidewalk will improve safety for children who walk to school.
The grant-funded project continues the sidewalk and pedestrian access improvements Russellville made in recent years with a new sidewalk from the elementary/middle school to downtown and a safety crossing with two traffic signals on Route C, funded by another transportation grant of nearly $250,000.
MoDOT’s Central District awarded $4 million in grants to 14 projects from among 32 requests.
February 04, 2015 / by Collin Reischman, Managing Editor
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — House Speaker John Diehl, R-Town and Country, told reporters today that his office had instructed several lawmakers and committees to take action on transportation, jobs, and a study of the economic impact of NFL teams in Missouri.
Diehl announced all three moves to reporters today following House adjournment. Diehl is asking Reps. Paul Curtman and Glen Kolkmeyer to hold joint hearing of their respective committees on Government Efficiency and Transportation. The joint hearings will be tasked with examining MODOT’s fiscal needs and exploring a variety of funding options to preserve and expand Missouri’s massive road system.
The joint hearings will be tasked with providing some recommendations to Diehl by the legislative spring break. Also on Diehl’s docket is a task force to be chaired by Rep. Jeanie Lauer, which is aimed at bringing business owners and representatives from the state’s universities together to coordinate curriculum and hiring practices for new graduates.
“There are thousands of jobs out there that are available to be filled today, but there’s not a qualified workforce to fill those jobs,” Diehl said. “At the same time, we graduate thousands of students from our universities that can’t find jobs. We need to start breaking down these silos. It’s going to require better communication between colleges, community colleges, universities as well as employers.”
Lauer’s task force will also be tasked with producing a report with recommendations to the legislature. Lauer told reporters she hopped to establish stronger connections between schools and employers so that students were graduating with the understanding that they were fully qualified to apply for specific jobs.
Finally, Diehl said the House would be exploring the economic impact of having an NFL team in St. Louis. Calling the recent coverage and discussions “mostly hypothetical,” Diehl said that Rep. Jay Barnes and his committee on Government Accountability would be studying the issue.
Barnes’ duty is threefold: to analyze what economic benefit Missouri as a state sees from an NFL team in St. Louis, the existing and continuing state obligations regarding the Edward Jones Dome, and an analysis of money the state has paid out versus earned benefit for the taxpayer. Diehl said the committee would be specifically tasked with examining the state’s role and obligations related to the Rams potential move from St. Louis.
All three announcements came following perhaps the busiest week of floor activity yet in the early weeks of the legislative session. House members finished the week by passing the Missouri Dairy Revitalization Act and a bill tying unemployment benefits to the jobless rate — both bills that Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed last year that the legislature fell just short of overriding.
By Bob Watson
Thursday, February 5, 2015
With very little discussion, and a 5-0 vote, Missouri’s Highways and Transportation Commission on Wednesday approved the austerity plan called “Missouri’s 325 System — Tough Choices Ahead.”
It requires the state Transportation Department to concentrate on maintaining — at current levels — about 8,000 miles of the state’s nearly 34,000-mile highway system, while the other 26,000 miles are classified as “supplementary” and will receive only limited, routine maintenance.
MoDOT Director Dave Nichols said there were no changes made in the plan that first was introduced last month.
It still has a primary road going through every county.
In Mid-Missouri, the primary roads include:
• U.S. 50 in Cole, Moniteau, Morgan, Osage and Gasconade counties.
• U.S. 54 in Cole, Callaway, Miller and Camden counties.
• U.S. 63 in Cole, Boone, Osage and Maries counties.
• Interstate 70 in Callaway and Boone counties.
• Missouri 17 in Cole and Miller counties.
• Missouri 5 in Moniteau, Morgan and Camden counties.
• Missouri 52 in Miller and Morgan counties.
• Missouri 42 in Miller and Maries counties.
• Missouri 28 in Maries and Gasconade counties.
• Missouri 19 in Gasconade County.
But other heavily traveled roads — including Missouri Boulevard and Missouri 179 in Jefferson City, Route B between Jefferson City and Meta and Route C between Jefferson City and Versailles, and Providence Road and Stadium Boulevard in Columbia — will be shifted to the supplementary system.
“This is about Missouri and Missourians and our roads and bridges across our state, and keeping them in good condition,” Nichols told commissioners Wednesday morning, “to be able to provide the competitive advantage that we need in our state for economic development, job creation and safety.
“Insufficient transportation funding affects us all.”
The problem isn’t new, he noted. Missouri has the nation’s seventh largest road system — but ranks 46th in funding.
The state’s 17 cents a gallon tax on each gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel sold hasn’t changed since 1996, but costs — especially for materials used in road-building and maintenance, and for labor — have climbed significantly during the last two decades.
Right now, Nichols said, “Our customer satisfaction is at 85 percent — but we’re not going to be able to continue that way,” because the dwindling amounts of money available for major maintenance or construction will leave more and more motorists unhappy with road conditions.
The number in the program’s name is the amount of money — $325 million — the department will have available each year for road and bridge maintenance, starting in 2017.
“It takes $485 million just to be able to keep the system in the condition it is in today,” Nichols told the commissioners. “It takes $160 million more than we will have to maintain what we have.”
And MoDOT won’t have enough money available to match federal funds, a process which previously helped Missouri accomplish road improvements.
The shortfall also means more of Missouri’s crumbling bridges will face being closed in the future because the state won’t have the money to replace them.
Nichols acknowledged MoDOT still will have about a $2 billion budget, but much of the money is obligated for other expenses, including paying off the bonds sold about a decade ago to pay for the “Smoother Roads” initiative that resurfaced the most heavily traveled roads.
He said MoDOT crews still will do the best they can to maintain the existing system, but the focus on the 8,000 miles of primary roads carrying the most traffic will leave the 26,000 miles of supplemental roads like “a patchwork quilt, of going out and patching roads and doing some pothole repairs.”
With a snowstorm in Wednesday’s forecast, Nichols promised MoDOT won’t shirk winter clean-up efforts. But he said an expensive year like last year will take money from the possible improvements in the next summer.
He said lawmakers have suggested several options — including a 2 cents per gallon fuel tax increase for each of the next six years and converting Interstate 70 to a toll road — but none of the ideas have substantial support and will continue to be discussed during the 2015 legislative session.
(Kansas City, Mo. – Jan. 30, 2015) For the first time in more than 30 years, Johnson County Transit will be managed by the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. Johnson County Government and KCATA officially approved the new partnership in December, to be effective Feb. 1, 2015.
KCATA will be responsible for the administration and management of all Johnson County Transit services. However, The JO’s routes, bus stops, drivers, vehicles and fares are not changing with this new agreement. The JO will still contract with First Transit, and the same First Transit operators will continue to drive the same JO buses and the same bus routes. Customers can still expect the same level of quality transit service for daily commutes.
This management consolidation will result in greater efficiencies and cost savings for Johnson County. The major component of the savings are personnel costs, which results directly from KCATA utilizing existing staff, in greater purchasing power for things such as fuel, and efficiencies in the areas of regional planning, communications and finance. This is a management consolidation only. Johnson County Government will maintain policy and budget decisions.
Although fares and passes will remain the same, there is a regional fare study taking place, separate from this effort, which could eventually affect fares throughout the region.
However, short- and long-term, the consolidation will result in integrated route planning, communications and customer services that meet the needs of current and future customers.
For information about JO service, customers can continue to use the following resources:
By Kevin DeGood & Andrew Schwartz | Wednesday, January 28, 2015
One of the most pervasive, durable, and detrimental myths in transportation policy is that highways pay for themselves, while public transportation does not. In reality, both modes require significant public subsidies, as user fees—such as fuel taxes and farebox revenues—cover only a portion of total costs. States and the federal government supplement these user fees with property taxes, bonding, and general revenues. On average, these nonuser fee revenues represent 26 percent of total annual highway expenditures.
Moreover, treating all highways equally obscures the fact that per-mile construction and maintenance costs, driving levels, and motor fuel tax revenues vary substantially depending on the location, size, and population around a particular road. While the overwhelming majority of driving occurs within metropolitan areas, many large urban highways and arterial roads cost substantially more money to maintain than they generate in fuel taxes. This is also true of many rural and exurban arterial roads. This means that states must cross subsidize thousands of miles of roads that generate insufficient gas tax revenues each year.
Research by the Center for American Progress shows that nearly 4 in 10 miles of interstate highway and other principal arterial roadways fail to generate enough in user fees to cover their long-term maintenance costs. For the purposes of this analysis, maintenance costs include one reconstruction and multiple resurfacings over the course of three decades while excluding the costs of land acquisition, engineering, construction, and inflation.
When the analysis is conducted assuming 1 percent annual inflation, the share of interstate and other principal arterial roadways that fail to cover their costs rises by more than 22,000 miles, or 9 percent. In all likelihood, actual construction inflation will be much higher than 1 percent per year over the next 30 years. Furthermore, if land acquisition and construction expenses were amortized over the same period, an even higher share of roadways would fail to cover their costs.
This research also strongly suggests that an even higher share of minor arterial roadways, collectors, and other local roads fail to cover their long-term costs. A disproportionately large percentage of driving occurs on interstates and principal arterials—which make up the National Highway System, or NHS—relative to the rest of the roadway network. Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration shows that the NHS accounts for only 5.5 percent of all roadway miles yet carries 55 percent of all vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, each year. As a result, the remaining 94 percent of the system generates much less user fee revenue on a per-mile basis, since it carries less than half of all driving.
Please join APTA Chair Phil Washington on Friday, January 23 at 12:30 pm ET, to learn all the details about our national transportation infrastructure day that we are calling Stand Up for Transportation Day. On April 9, 2015, we will collectively call attention to the state of our transportation infrastructure in this country and to the lack of a long-term sustainable transportation funding bill.
During the webinar, we will outline the latest plans in place for the day and provide resources to help you plan your event/rally. We will also want to hear your ideas for making this day a success!
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
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