The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Business

February 25, 2014

Jackson County plans for commuter rail gets boost

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jackson County’s deal with a railroad to buy an important rail corridor will be a big boost to its plan to build a commuter rail system in Kansas City, Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders said.

Sanders on Monday called the memorandum of understanding between the county and Union Pacific Railroad Co. the most significant milestone to date in the effort to connect Kansas City with its eastern suburbs by rail, The Kansas City Star reported.

He said that although much more work needs to be done before commuter trains connect eastern and southern Jackson County with the Kansas City streetcar line now under construction, the agreement makes it a real possibility.

“Until today, it was just lines on the map,” he said.

The agreement would allow the county to buy two pieces of unused rail corridor totaling 19 miles. The price for both pieces would be $59.9 million, or about half of what the railroad had asked for the property at the start of nearly two years of negotiations.

Union Pacific has also agreed to give the county a 1.9-mile stretch of rail corridor between the Lake City area and the Independence Power & Light generating plant.

U.S. Rep Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat, said he will seek federal money to help cover some or all of the purchase price. Sanders is betting on the latter.

“I think we’ve got a real shot that we can get the full $59 million,” he said.

 

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