Category: Kansas

Partnership in the News: Kansas transit center opens thanks to TIGER grant


Mission Transit Center. Image via the Federal Transit Administration.

Mission City, Missouri recently celebrated the grand opening of the Mission Transit Center, a new transportation hub serving Johnson County designed to enhance service for current riders, attract new riders and connect transit to key areas where people live, work and play.

In 2010, the greater Kansas City region was awarded a $50 million grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program to assist transportation and infrastructure projects in the region. As part of the grant, Johnson County was awarded $10.7 million to upgrade its transit system.

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Mayor Laura McConwell and Mission, Kansas: A small city with big smart growth ambitions


The Sylvester Powell Jr. Community Center in Mission, Kansas.

Earlier this week we announced the winners of our 2013 Leadership Awards. Mayor Laura McConwell and Mission, Kansas were one of the winners.

Mission is a first-generation suburb of just under 10,000 people, located 8 miles south of downtown Kansas City, Missouri. At just 2.7 square miles, Mission feels like a small town despite being minutes away from the center city.

Some might see Mission’s small size as an obstacle to economic vitality. But the community in Mission saw smart growth strategies as a way to raise the profile of the city far beyond it’s small size.

Mayor Laura McConwell has helped make those plans a reality. McConwell has served as the City of Mission’s Mayor since 2002, replacing Sylvester Powell who served as mayor for the previous 25 years. Originally inspired to serve on the town council to speak for young families who at that time were not well-represented, McConwell has become a driving force behind several impressive smart growth and sustainability initiatives in the city.

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Announcing the winners of Smart Growth America’s 2013 Leadership Awards

Two mayors and one company are being honored this week with national awards for their leadership on better development strategies.

Mayor Randy Rhoads of Lee’s Summit, MO and Mayor Laura McConwell of Mission, KS have been selected to receive Smart Growth America’s 2013 Leadership Awards. They are joined by Progressive Insurance, for its Snapshot pay-as-you-drive auto insurance.

“This year’s award winners are doing remarkable work,” said Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America. “Lee’s Summit and Mission are creating vibrant neighborhoods through strategic policy and investment decisions. Progressive Insurance is an industry leader in recognizing new trends among American drivers. Smart Growth America is proud to honor them with this year’s Leadership Awards.”

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Economic growth through transit-oriented development in Kansas City

As Kansas City prepares for a special election on a proposed downtown streetcar line, KCPT and the Mid-America Regional Council‘s Imagine KC series examines the impact of transit-oriented development on Kansas City’s metro. KCPT’s Randy Mason and LOCUS President Chris Leinberger toured some of Kansas City’s streetscape along the proposed line, and discussed the commerce and development streetcar proponents predict will follow.

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Chris Leinberger on the Option of Urbanism at the Kansas City Public Library

On April 18, 2012, Chris Leinberger, President of LOCUS, visited Kansas City, MO to discuss walkable neighborhoods as part of the Kansas City Public Libraries series on What Makes a Great City.

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Spotlight on Sustainability: Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri

The following is based on an interview with Tom Gerend, Assistant Director of Transportation, Mid-America Regional Council

While anyone who is involved in regional planning can appreciate the difficulties of trying to work across multiple local jurisdictions, Kansas City faces a unique set of challenges. Kansas City lies on the border of Missouri and Kansas, which means the Kansas City Transit Corridors and Green Impact Zone TIGER (Transportation Invesment Generating Economic Recovery) grant, by the U.S. Department of Transportation, is working across not just city and county lines, but state lines as well. That makes the project complex, but also rich with opportunity because numerous streams of federal revenue can be tapped to focus on one region.

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Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads

Decades of underinvestment in regular repair have left many states’ roads in poor condition, and the cost of repairing these roads is rising faster than many states can address them. These liabilities are outlined in a new report by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, released today, which examines road conditions and spending priorities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report recommends changes at both the state and federal level that can reduce future liabilities, benefit taxpayers and create a better transportation system.

Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads found that between 2004 and 2008 states spent 43 percent of total road construction and preservation funds on repair of existing roads, while the remaining 57 percent of funds went to new construction. That means 57 percent of these funds was spent on only 1 percent of the nation’s roads, while only 43 percent was dedicated to preserving the 99 percent of the system that already existed. As a result of these spending decisions, road conditions in many states are getting worse and costs for taxpayers are going up.

“Federal taxpayers have an enormous stake in seeing that our roads are kept in good condition,” said Erich W. Zimmermann of Taxpayers for Common Sense at a briefing earlier today. “Billions of precious tax dollars were spent to build our highway system, and neglecting repair squanders that investment. Keeping our roads in good condition reduces taxpayers’ future liabilities.”

“Spending too little on repair and allowing roads to fall apart exposes states and the federal government to huge financial liabilities,” said Roger Millar of Smart Growth America. “Our findings show that in order to bring their roads into good condition and maintain them that way, states would collectively have to spend $43 billion every year for the next 20 years – more than they currently spend on all repair, preservation and new capacity combined. As this figure illustrates, state have drifted too far from regular preservation and repair and in so doing have created a deficit that is going to take decades to reverse.”

The high cost of poor conditions
According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, every $1 spent to keep a road in good condition avoids $6-14 needed later to rebuild the same road once it has deteriorated significantly. Investing too little on road repair increases these future liabilities, and with every dollar spent on new construction many states add to a system they are already failing to keep in good condition.

State and federal leaders can do more to see that highway funds are spent in ways that benefits driver and taxpayers. More information about the high cost of delaying road repair, how states invest their transportation dollars and what leaders can do to address these concerns is available in the full report.

Click here to read the full report, state-specific data and view the interactive map.

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In deciding to leave Kansas City, EPA fails to practice what it preaches

The New York Times adds to the ongoing debate over the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s decision to move one of its regional offices out of Kansas City, Kan., to an office park 20 miles from downtown. The article, published via Greenwire, explains the contradiction in such a move:

“[T]he decision runs counter to the goals of the Obama Administration’s “livable communities” initiative, run by EPA, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The program is based on the idea that denser populations and more mass transit lead to less pollution and less need for sprawling suburban developments on the untouched land outside cities.

‘[The lease] is totally inconsistent with what the national office has been saying and doing,’ said Kaid Benfield, director of the smart growth program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in an interview. ‘EPA has been a government leader in thinking about sustainability and the importance of cities in relation to environmental issues. For some reason, in this particular case, all of that was apparently disregarded.’”


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