FEBRUARY 15, 2012 -- The effort to develop a more extensive mass transit system that would better serve Jackson County and the Greater Kansas City region continues to gain momentum. Last week, Jackson County participated in a series of transit-oriented development (TOD) workshops that concentrated on how improved public transportation can serve as engine to get the local economy moving.
The workshops focused on how to best maximize economic development opportunities in the areas around potential stops along future public transit corridors. Major objectives of TOD include developments within walking distance of transit stops and creating "livable communities," in which residents have the option to use public transportation to access housing, jobs, shopping and entertainment venues.
Effective TOD can increase the use of public transit, raise property values and reduce traffic congestion.
"Transit-oriented development works," stated Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders. "It's worked in other communities, and it will work in ours as well. We are moving forward to give our residents better public transportation options that will serve our county and the metropolitan region."
Raytown Mayor David Bower, Independence Mayor Don Reimal, Lee's Summit Mayor Randy Rhodes and Blue Springs Mayor Carson Ross al participated in the TOD workshops, which were held over three days, February 6-8. Representatives from Greenwood, Pleasant Hill, Oak Grove and Grain Valley also took part in the discussions about how to best utilize the land along the proposed transit routes.
A recap of the workshops was presented Wednesday, February 8 at the Independence Regional Ennovation Center.
The workshops are one part of the ongoing Jackson County Commuter Corridors Alternatives Analysis, which is examining potential mass transit options along the I-70 and Rock Island corridors. The study is being conducted through a partnership between Jackson County, Kansas City, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority and Mid-America Regional Council. Completion of an Alternative Analysis study is a requirement to seek federal funding for the construction of a new mass transit system. to seek public input about mass transit as part of the Alternative Analysis, an extensive study that must be conducted as part of the process involved in securing federal mass transit funding. During a round-table discussion with local and state officials last fall, United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the Greater Kansas City area is "well positioned" to receive federal mass transit assistance.
Mayor Bower is impressed with the methodical approach that the county and its partners are taking with the study process.
"This is a sincere, orchestrated process that will get us where we want to be," he said. "We're making a generational decision here."
Sanders called the TOD workshops another key step in the process of implementing plans for a new regional transit system.
Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders notes that improved public transit is a proven catalyst for economic development.
Lindsey Sousa of Parsons Brinkerhoff discusses transit-oriented development possibilities along proposed transportation routes in eastern Jackson County.
Greg Roikos of the City of Kansas City makes a point during the TOD workshops, which included elected officials and staff from nine different Jackson County communities.
Independence Mayor Don Reimal (left) and Independence Director of Public Works John Powell (center) look at a proposed transit route.