by Alan McArthur
Kansas City Mayor Mark Funkhouser and Councilman Russ Johnson spoke to the Platte County Pachyderm Club on Thursday night.
The mayor spoke about his idea for a regional light rail plan to cover the Kansas City metropolitan area.
According to Funkhouser, the city has three different bus systems serving the area. The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority serves Kansas City, Mo. and Independence. The JO which serves Johnson County, Kan. and The Bus which serves Wyandotte County.
“If you live in Platte City you'll probably not get trains there, but we can change the way we do other forms of transit,” said Funkhouser.
Funkhouser said the city could expand the bus service if there was a central light rail system.
Johnson spoke to the club about upcoming road improvements in the Platte County area.
According to Johnson, Kansas City has approved road improvements of $30 million north of 152 Highway. The plan includes widening Congress Road and improving Tiffany Springs Road near I-29 Highway.
Other projects include redesigning the Interstate 29 and 64th Street intersection to realign Prairie View Road.
Johnson said the city has partnered with Platte County's Parks and Recreation Department to construct 13 miles of trails in the Line Creek Valley.
“People will be able to go from the river to almost Smithville,” said Johnson.
The trail will connect with a system through Riverside to the E.H. Young Park, which will be connected through the Missouri Riverfront Trail to English Landing Park in Parkville.
Another major problem facing Kansas City will be the upgrading of the city's sewer system to meet federal guidelines.
According to Funkhouser, the city built combined sanitary and storm sewers before the 1973 Clean Water Act was passed, making it illegal to do so.
“The EPA will now sue you, the EPA sued St. Louis last year,” said Funkhouser. “We've held off a lawsuit so far, but we're the last city to do this.”
Funkhouser said one of the worst areas of sewage leakage is in the Line Creek Valley.
“We are putting billions of gallons of sewage into the water system,” said Funkhouser. “We should have dealt with this a long time ago. As early as 1994 we knew about this problem.”
The improvements to sewers is estimated to cost more than $3 billion and Funkhouser said the cost will most likely be paid by sewer users through increased rates.
“Sewer rate hikes will pay for it, there will be a separate charge on the bills,” said Funkhouser.