Jackson County Acquires Rock Island Corridor

17.7-Mile Line To Be Redeveloped For Trail & Potentially Multi-Modal Transportation

MONDAY, MAY 2, 2016

This is just the beginning.
Jackson County's acquisition of the Rock Island Corridor was a transaction seven years in the making. But after he and Union Pacific (UP) officials signed a contract during a special ceremony today transferring ownership of the 17.7-mail rail line over to Jackson County, County Executive Frank White, Jr. emphasized, "Now we've got a lot more work to do."

Transforming a portion of the Rock Island Corridor into a hiking/bicycle trail will commence immediately. Corridor planning and design will focus on preservation of the national rail network corridor’s integrity, most notably the railroad corridor’s unencumbered continuity, and on multi-modal transportation options as the corridor remains available for freight service.

"This project is an investment in our county, in our residents and in our businesses," said County Executive White. "This is about one generation working to provide new opportunities for the next generation."

The new trail will eventually connection Jackson County and the entire metropolitan region to the Katy Trail, creating one continuous trail across Missouri — from St. Louis to Kansas City. Trail development, alone, is expected to generate about $1.3 million per year in economic activity.
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Federal Grant To Construct Trail  

A $10 million federal Surface Transportation Program grant, allocated through Mid-American Regional Council, will cover most of the costs of the new trail — with an additional $2.5 million match in local funding. During their April 4 meeting, Jackson County Legislators approved issuing up to $52 million in bonds for the county, in partnership with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (ATA), to purchase the Rock Island corridor from Union Pacific Railroad.

The corridor stretches from the Truman Sports Complex south through Raytown and into Lee's Summit. Trains last operated in corridor in 1981.

"The corridor has been dormant the last 35 years," White said following the signing ceremony. "But it's about to come back to life in a big way."

Frank White Speaking

Mass Transit Development

The possibility of also utilizing the corridor for mass transit services prompted the ATA to join the county in securing financing for purchasing the property.

"This is a monumental day for our community," former Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders stated. "The potential of this project is endless. It has the potential to change the way our entire community works, the way it lives, the way we move about for generations to come."

UP Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations called the transaction a "great deal for UP, a great deal for Jackson County, a great deal for the state of Missouri." 

Anticipating the full redevelopment of the Rock Island Corridor, with its potential to provide mass transit service to Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadiums, Moore added, "I'm looking forward to someday using the corridor to get to one of the Chiefs' or Royals' games." 


> Rock Island Corridor Map (PDF)

> Map With Activities (Medical, Libraries, Schools, etc.) Around The Corridor (PDF)

An Investment Paying Big Dividends

Developing the Rock Island Corridor is expected to be an investment that pays big economic dividends for the Jackson County and the Kansas City region.

Trails Development:

  • Trail development in corridor will bring $1.3 million in economic activity per year
  • Over 19,000 bicyclists will use the corridor
  • 17.7 mile corridor connects cities of Kansas City, Raytown and Lee’s Summit
  • Provides for potential of a Kansas City connection to the KATY Trail
  • 40% of trail users are expected to be daily work commuters

Economic Impact:

  • Hundreds of millions of dollars in public and private investments planned within ½ mile of corridor through 2020
  • Trail development will increase property values by about $45 million for residents within ¼ of corridor
  • A National Association of Realtors study found homes near trails sell up to 15% more than homes not near trails
  • For every dollar invested significant benefits generated to the local community
  • Trail and transit infrastructure projects, more labor intensive than material intensive, create more jobs per dollar spent than highway and bridge projects and are more suitable for small businesses and MBE/WBE enterprises. 
  • Within 1 mile of corridor
     Over 25,000 jobs
     Over 23,000 households
     Over 56,000 residents

Transit Development:

  • $1 invested in transit and trail in corridor will generate approximately $3 in economic benefit
  • Transit and trails will connect regional users to Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadiums
  • Provides for potential of connecting future transit to the River Market
  • Transit in corridor will connect with greater KCATA bi-state network

Environmental Impact:

  • Over 14 million fewer vehicle-miles will be traveled in 20-year period due to trail development
  • New transportation options offered will save the region 477,000 gallons in gasoline over 20 years
  • Trail development will clean up existing eyesores, safety hazards and contamination
Sources: Parsons Brinckerhoff, Groundswell Consulting, Jackson County GIS Department and University of Maryland