Tomorrow’s Missouri election is an important one for biking, walking, transit, and all forms of transportation. Two big issues are on the ballot: Phase 2 of the Kansas City Streetcar and a new state-wide sales tax for transportation.
The two issues have very important consequences for walking and bicycling, both positive and negative. Both issues represent much-needed investments in transportation, but also have negative consequences for public policy and people who walk and bike. We have summarized the highlights here, and provided links to read more information about each issue.
Please remember to vote on Tuesday, August 5th!
#1. Kansas City Streetcar Phase 2 (Question A)
Flickr photo by Jym Dyer
“Green Lane” Cycletracks adjacent to streetcar rails.
The Bottom Line
The streetcar is a significant investment in public transit and redeveloping the urban core that is needed to keep Kansas City competitive in the 21st Century. At this point it is still too early to tell how streetcar expansion will impact biking and walking in KCMO. Question A could be a huge boon for bikeability/walkability… or it could be a total bust.
- New connections between the jobs and destinations in the Downtown/Plaza corridor and the residents of Midtown and the East Side
- Major new investment in public transit
- Attraction of private investment and redevelopment along the streetcar lines, especially in apartments and condos
- Opportunity for unprecedented biking and walking investment in the corridors
- Unclear how walkability will be addressed in the corridor design
- New street hazards for cyclists, with no current plan for addressing those hazards
- The popular bike route utilizing the Main Street bus lanes will become less feasible
- Without dedicated bikeways, the Historic Northeast bike access will be completely cut off from Downtown and River Market.
First of two elections
This election is only to expand the current streetcar district to encompass more of the city. If it passes, there will be a second election in November to set the rates for sales tax and property assessments. If Amendment 7 also passes, the streetcar sales tax would be ¼ cent. If Amendment 7 fails, the streetcar tax would be a full 1 cent.
#2. Missouri state-wide transportation sales tax (Amendment 7)
The state wants to raise create a new ¾ cent sales tax for ten years to fund transportation improvements, and include bike/ped/transit for the first time.
The Bottom Line
While finally funding transit and bike/ped is a huge step forward for MoDOT, the overall structure of this program has several flaws in its impacts on public policy. If the Amendment 7 does pass, BikeWalkKC has worked to ensure that the projects it funds in Kansas City will have a positive impact on walking and bicycling.
- Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure get a dedicated 10% of the new funding, including a big chunk of the funding needed to finish the Katy Trail from Pleasant Hill to the Truman Sports Complex
- Streetcar and bus funding
- No funding for Amtrak passenger rail
- User fees like toll roads and gas tax increases are prohibited for 10 years
- Most of the local bike/ped project list is focused suburban bicycling, with very little for pedestrians or the urban core.
- Existing gas tax revenue still can’t fund transit or bike/ped projects
- Higher sales tax constrains local cities’ ability to fund local improvements like transit, trails, bike lanes, etc.
- KC region is a net donor to rural Missouri, receiving back less than 80% of the sales tax paid locally.