Earlier this week, Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders announced that the county has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Union Pacific Railroad that gives Jackson County the exclusive right to purchase key transit corridors which have the potential to be used for expanded public transit options in the future.
The MOU gives the county the right to acquire 15 ½ miles of the Rock Island corridor, which runs past the Truman Sports Complex and through Raytown and Lee’s Summit as well as an additional 3 ½ miles of right of way near downtown Independence, which is commonly known as the Pixley Spur. The Rock Island corridor provides the primary connection for Kansas City to the Missouri KATY Trail State Park.
Additionally, Jackson County also gains access to Union Pacific’s "Independence Power and Light" spur, which 1.9 miles in length and runs between the Lake City Ammunition Plant and 23rd and Truman Road in Independence.
"This agreement helps make commuter rail in Jackson County a real possibility and will allow us to assess all possible transit options along these corridors so that we can make the best decision for the future of our region," said County Executive Sanders. "None of this would be possible without the partnership of the Union Pacific Railroad and its CEO Jack Koraleski".
The MOU between Jackson County and Union Pacific does not represent a purchase of these corridors, only an option to purchase. The county has not yet made a financial commitment in regards to any of the corridors set forth in the agreement. The county will work with the local congressional delegation to access possible grant opportunities.
"Today’s news is an exciting development for the future of transit and trails in Jackson County," said Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II. "The ability to move freely and easily throughout our metropolitan area will offer our citizens more opportunity and will increase the economic competitiveness of our region. As this process moves forward, I will work with my partners in the Missouri Congressional Delegation and the Department of Transportation to assist in identifying any available funds to acquire this important community asset."
County officials will now work with Union Pacific Railroad as well as a partnership team, including the Mid-America Regional Council and cities along these corridors to assess all transit options along these rights-of-way, including commuter rail and expanded county trails.
"Union Pacific Railroad has been working with Jackson County and will continue our partnership with them as they work on their transit plan. The execution of the Memorandum of Understanding between Jackson County and Union Pacific is another step in the county’s encompassing transit vision," said Ben Jones, Union Pacific Railroad Director of Public Affairs-Missouri/Kansas.