Kansas City voters approve $600 million bond package for complete streets; St Louis approves MetroLink expansion

In recent years, voters across the nation have proven they are willing to approve major infrastructure initiatives if they include public transportation, bicycling, walking, and trails. 

Kansas City approved $600 million in Complete Streets bonds; St Louis approved MetroLink expansion
Kansas City approved $600 million in Complete Streets bonds; St Louis approved major MetroLink expansion

Tuesday we saw that the trend holds true in Missouri as well: Kansas City voters passed a $600 million "Complete Streets" bonding package by an overwhelming marging, and St. Louis voters approved a half-cent sales tax for MetroLink expansion and other infrastructure improvements.

Kansas City's new infrastructure proposal gives emphasis to Complete Streets, sidewalks, bike lanes, trails, and accessibility

The Kansas City Star summarized the Kansas City bond issues that passed Tuesday:

For years, Kansas City residents have pleaded for better roads, bridges, sidewalks and flood control. On Tuesday, voters put those community priorities ahead of individual pocketbook concerns and approved a massive, $800 million infrastructure package and the property tax increases to help pay for it.

The city plans to borrow and invest $800 million over 20 years in what is now the largest general obligation bond authorization in city history.

The city’s plan comprised three ballot questions, and each required a supermajority 57.1 percent approval. While that was a high bar, each question easily passed.

- Question 1, seeking $600 million for streets, bridges and sidewalks, passed with 66 percent support, in nearly complete unofficial returns.

Last week, the Kansas City Council adopted a comprehensive Complete Streets approach to the Question 1 funding, if approved. The new funding and Complete Streets approach has the potential to revolutionize Kansas City's bicycling, walking, and trails system. BikeWalkKC, which worked hard to ensure that the bonding proposal included Complete Streets elements, endorsed the bonding proposals and wrote a series of articles explaining that a vote for the bonding proposals was a vote for Complete Streets, sidewalks, bike lanes, and accessibility. The proposal also includes significant funding for the city's trail system.

In something of a surprise victory, Kansas City voters also approved a 1/8 cent sales tax dedicated solely for improvements along the Prospect Ave corridor in central Kansas City. This is a corridor that does need significant investment.  It was the subject of the Safer People, Safer Streets pedestrian, bicycle, and transit assessment in Kansas City organized by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2015.

St. Louis votes to expand MetroLink public transit and invest in infrastructure and neighborhoods

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch summarized the situation with Prop 1 in St. Louis:

About 60 percent of voters approved the MetroLink sales tax increase. Proposition 1 will increase the city sales tax by half a cent on every dollar and put about $12 million a year toward planning and engineering for an 8-mile north-south MetroLink expansion. . . .

The MetroLink expansion, which would not be completed until 2026 or later, would span from Fairground Park in north St. Louis to Cherokee Street in south St. Louis.

City officials estimate Proposition 1 will raise $20 million a year. The amount of new tax revenue over $12 million will go to programs aimed at neighborhood revitalization, workforce development, public safety and infrastructure.

The 8-mile route is seen as the first phase in a potential 31.5-mile city-county MetroLink expansion to the north and south, although St. Louis County has yet to guarantee its participation in the project.

Unfortunately the St. Louis proposal for infrastructure and neighborhood investment does not include the same type of guidance on a Complete Streets emphasis as the Kansas City proposal did. Local advocates will have to work for the same goals on a project-by-project basis.

 

Find out more about Complete Streets in Missouri, including how your community can get started with Complete Streets, here.

Working to create a seamless, interconnected, statewide bicycle, pedestrian, and trails transportation system and working for the adoption of Complete Streets policies across Missouri are two of the major areas of emphasis in MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support help turn our Vision into reality!

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