From its early days as a trading post, location of major cattle stock yards, and site of the first permanent rail crossing over the Missouri River, the Kansas City area has been a historic link to the development and evolution of the transportation and distribution sectors in the region and the nation. Today, the region continues as a crossroads for freight transportation. Freight moving in and out of the region has access to all modes of transportation. The area is served by 10 railroads, including four Class I’s (NS, BNSF, KCS, and UP); four Interstate highways (I-35, I-70, I-29, and I-49); ports on the Missouri River; and four airports providing international commercial and air cargo services. Kansas City’s logistical advantage as a freight transportation hub is strengthened by its geographic location in the center of the nation. Goods traveling by truck can reach 90% of the U.S. population within a 2-day drive.

The Kansas City metropolitan area spans the border between the states of Missouri and Kansas. The regional area includes nine counties, with a land area of 4,358 square miles. The total area, including water, is 4,423 square miles. Based on the 2010 Census, the population is estimated at 2,086,771. Kansas City is the 29th largest city in the United States, the second-largest metropolitan area in Missouri (St. Louis is larger), and the largest metropolitan area in Kansas. Figure 11 provides a map of its general location.

Figure 3: Kansas City Metropolitan Area Source: Mid-American Regional Council

Source: Mid-American Regional Council
Figure 11: Kansas City metropolitan area

The MPO for the region is the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC). MARC serves the nine-county Kansas City metropolitan area, including Cass, Clay, Jackson, Platte, and Ray Counties in Missouri, and Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami, and Wyandotte counties in Kansas. There are 120 separate city governments within the region. The nine-county MPO region is illustrated in Figure 12. Figure 13 shows the metropolitan area, the MARC counties, and the city boundaries for Kansas City.

Figure 4: MARC MPO Region Source:

Figure 12: MARC MPO region

Figure 5: Kansas City Regional Area Source:

Figure 13: Kansas City regional area.

MARC has an active Goods Movement Committee that seeks to integrate freight issues and concerns with the overall metropolitan planning process. The committee grew out of the 1995 Intermodal Freight Strategies Study.

In addition to growth in manufacturing and distribution centers, four large intermodal projects are being developed in the region. International trade has also emerged as an important interjurisdictional issue in the Midwest. The 1998 Mid-Continent TradeWay Study conducted by MARC reinforced this reality. This study found that a significant amount of international cargo is processed in, or passes through, the Kansas City region. Trade in Kansas and Missouri traveling on I-35 from Texas to Chicago as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is growing. Opportunities exist to provide value-added services for NAFTA goods, and processing brings more freight into the Greater Kansas City area. Figure 14 and Figure 15 show the multimodal transportation system serving the area.

Figure 6: Kansas City’s Trade Corridor Network and Intermodal Facilities Source:

Figure 14: Kansas City’s trade corridor network and intermodal facilities

Figure 7: Significant Intermodal Rail and Airports in Kansas City Area Source:

Figure 15: Significant intermodal rail and airports in Kansas City area

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