South KC Perspective
I-435 to receive extra lane starting in Spring
By John Sharp
Several south Kansas City bridge and highway projects by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) are either finished or expected to be completed later this fall, but spring will mark the start of a much bigger project.
Removing the 83rd St. bridge over I-435 and re-decking and making structural repairs on the Raytown Rd. bridge over I-470 are done, as is the resurfacing of I-470 from the I-49 interchange east to Raytown Rd.
Constructing new decks and making structural repairs on Bannister Rd. (Highway W) bridges over the Blue River are essentially complete, but Matt Killion, area engineer for MoDOT, said traffic will still be reduced to one lane in each direction for about two more weeks while workers remove the crossovers, install curbs and grade the median.
Work on three westbound bridges on I-470 over the Little Blue River, View High Dr. and Cedar Creek should be completed around mid-November, according to Killion. He said the Little Blue River and Cedar Creek bridges are getting new decks and structural repairs, but the deck on the View High Dr. bridge only needed to be patched and overlaid.
He said similar work should start on all three of the eastbound I-470 bridges in March and should take about 65 days to complete. He said work on the I-470 bridges over Blue Ridge Blvd. and the Kansas City Southern railroad tracks consisting of patching, overlays and other minor repairs will start about the same time and should only take about 30 days to complete.
Killion said the new diverging diamond interchange at 155th St. and I-49 which will feature a roundabout on the east side and a pedestrian path across the 155th St. bridge between east and westbound lanes should be completely open to traffic by December 1.
Work on the Main St. bridge in Grandview over I-49 should be completed in December he said.
Killion said work should begin next spring on adding a lane in each direction on I-435 between the State Line Rd. and 103rd St. interchanges, which he said is the biggest bridge and highway project in MoDOT’s five-year plan for the nine-county Kansas City district.
He said MoDOT staff is evaluating proposals for this $70 million project and hopes to take a recommendation to the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission for its December 1 meeting. If approved by the Commission, he said the winning proposer could design the project over the winter so work can begin in the spring. He said staff hopes the project can be completed by May 1, 2020.
The project will include replacing the bridges over Holmes and Wornall Roads and widening and installing new decks on the 103rd St. bridges he said. Ramps at the State Line, Wornall and Holmes interchanges also will need to be reconfigured, and the loop ramps at Holmes may be removed he explained.
Killion noted MoDOT will do all it can to minimize inconvenience to the traveling public, but project specifications do allow for closure of one lane of traffic in each direction for up to 60 days during construction.
Other smaller MoDOT projects scheduled for 2018 that impact south Kansas City include resurfacing I-49 from Blue Ridge Blvd. to 163rd St., resurfacing U.S. 71 from I-670 to Bannister Rd. and resurfacing I-435 from Stadium Dr. to Bannister Rd.
Resurfacing I-470 from Raytown Rd. to 39th St. is scheduled for 2019.
Area residents can learn the latest news about major projects bringing jobs and economic growth to south Kansas City at the annual South Kansas City Alliance Economic Development Summit Saturday, October 7, at Avila University’s Goppert Theatre.
Titled “All Roads Lead to South Kansas City”, the summit will begin at 7 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast and conclude at 1:30 p.m. following a buffet luncheon. The event is free, but persons must register in advance at www.SouthKCAlliance.org.
The event’s keynote speaker will be Ed Hassinger, chief engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation, who oversees the department’s statewide transportation planning, design, construction, maintenance and operations. He is known for developing innovative solutions to Missouri’s transportation challenges.
A panel will discuss the latest developments concerning the Burns & McDonnell world headquarters expansion, Cerner Innovations Campus, Red Bridge Shopping Center revitalization, Three Trails Industrial Park and the three new sit-down restaurants opening at Ward Parkway Shopping Center.
Another highlight of the summit will be the release of results of a new survey of area employees of Burns & McDonnell, Cerner Corporation and St. Joseph Medical Center about what types of retail services they would patronize near their jobs and what types of nearby housing would interest them.
Panels will discuss transportation improvements planned to serve south Kansas City and to connect workers to the thousands of new jobs in the area and what resources (such as financing) are available to new business startups and existing businesses expanding in south Kansas City.
Joe Reardon, president and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, will be the luncheon speaker and will address the prospects for continued job growth throughout Kansas City and the impact a new terminal at Kansas City International Airport will have on future job growth.
Meet the Chief
New KCMO Police Chief and south Kansas City resident Rick Smith is getting around to meet area residents.
Smith will be at a “meet and greet” from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, October 4, at the South Patrol Police Station, 9701 Marion Park Dr.
Following that, he will speak at the same location at 6 p.m. Monday, October 9, at the monthly meeting of the South Kansas City Alliance. (Also on the program are Dr. Chuck Ambrose, University of Central Missouri president; Dr. Kirk Nooks, Metropolitan Community College Longview Campus president; and Dr. Dennis Carpenter, Lee’s Summit School District superintendent, who will speak about the Missouri Innovations Campus in Lee’s Summit. It is a collaborative year-round program of these organizations and business partners starting with the junior year in high school that allows students to complete both an associate’s degree and a Bachelor of Science degree within two years of high school graduation.)
The chief will also be the featured speaker at a breakfast of the South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, October 19, at The Martin Event Space, 13440 Holmes Rd. Cost for the breakfast is $20 for Chamber members and $30 for non-members, and reservations should be made by October 17.
Have Your Say
South Kansas City residents will have an opportunity to have their say on what should be the top priorities of city government at an interactive resident work session from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, October 10, at Whitfield Conference Center at Avila University.
Participants will break into focus groups at the session to discuss their goals and visions for the city’s future. They also will be able to work together to draft their own suggestions for the city’s budget for the next fiscal year showing which programs should receive more funding and which should receive less, while facing the same constraints as city officials.
Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner will provide a budget overview at the session, and participants will have an opportunity for one-on-one conversations with him and directors and managers from various city departments.
Refreshments will be served, and reservations are encouraged. Persons may register at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 816-513-1173.
I attended a similar session at Avila last year, and thought it was informative for both residents and city staff. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and I’m going again this year. (If you attend, let me know you read about it in this column.)
Bike KC Meeting
A second south Kansas City public meeting to update residents on proposed revisions to the Bike KC Master Plan and to get their feedback will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, October 10, at Center High School.
Residents will be asked to tell city staff their concerns, desires, needs and wants for the future of bicycling in Kansas City at the meeting as the city continues to work on updating its comprehensive bicycling master plan.
Persons with questions about the plan may contact Joseph Blankenship at Joseph.Blankenship@kcmo.org or by calling 816-513-2878.
Rep. McGee Honored
State Representative DaRon McGee has been selected to receive the Velma E. Woodson Outstanding Leadership Award by the KCMO branch of the NAACP.
McGee will receive the award at the branch’s 50th Freedom Fund Banquet titled “Steadfast and Immovable” on Saturday, October 14, at the Westin Crown Center Hotel. The event will begin with a social hour and silent auction at 4 p.m., and the banquet will start at 5 p.m.
The keynote speaker at the event will be Hilary Shelton, director to the NAACP’s Washington Bureau which is its federal legislative and national public policy division. He also is senior vice president for advocacy and policy for the NAACP, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization.
Curbside leaf and brush collection for KCMO residents who live from 63rd St. south to the city limits will be on their regular trash days October 23-27 and again on November 27-December 1.
Persons may set out up to 20 paper yard waste sacks and/or bundles of branches not weighing more than 40 pounds each by 7 a.m. No trash, grass clippings or branches more than three inches in diameter may be included.
If sacks are sealed, only masking tape must be used, not plastic or duct tape. Bundles must be no more than two feet in diameter and no more than four feet long. Only twine or rope may be used to tie them, not wire or plastic tape.
If sacks and bundles are not picked up on scheduled trash days, residents must call the 3-1-1 call center to report it within 24 hours.
South Kansas City residents may also take leaves and brush for no charge upon showing a valid driver’s license or state-issued ID as proof of residency to the city drop-off site at 10301 Raytown Rd. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays until it closes in January.
Leaves do not need to be sacked and brush does not need to be bundled. If plastic bags are used they must be emptied and taken away by residents, who must also remove any duct tape or plastic tape used to seal sacks.
Tree stumps are prohibited.
Race Heating Up
Political observers will be watching for the results of the quarterly campaign financing reports due October 15 to see if Councilman Scott Taylor maintains his early huge fund-raising lead over his colleagues who have announced their intentions to run for KCMO mayor in 2019.
Taylor filed the paperwork to begin raising money for his mayoral run in February 2016, more than a year before any of his competitors who all filed similar paperwork this spring and summer.
Based on the reports turned in to the Missouri Ethics Commission covering the period through June 30, the Committee to Elect Scott Taylor had more than seven times as much cash on hand as the campaign committee of his nearest fund-raising rival among his colleagues.
Taylor’s campaign committee reported $353,395 cash on hand, compared to $49,084 for Councilman Jermaine Reed, $28,655 for Mayor Pro Tem Scott Wagner and $18,619 for Councilwoman Jolie Justus, the latest candidate to enter the race.
It is still awfully early to pick a favorite or favorites in this race, especially since many observers believe at least two other candidates are likely to enter it. Mayor Sly James is prevented from seeking another term by term limits.
Large campaign war chests don’t always lead to large numbers of votes, but adequate campaign funds sure help candidates transmit their messages to voters. A lack of funds makes it very difficult for candidates to get their messages across unless they are running in a small district, such as for state representative, where they can rely on door-to-door personal campaigning.
Grandview C-4 Focus
The Grandview C-4 School District will focus this school year on boosting college and career readiness and improving the cultural competency of its entire staff so they can relate well with students who have different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds than theirs, according to Superintendent Dr. Kenny Rodrequez.
Speaking September 29 at a “Coffee with the Superintendent” event in Grandview, Rodrequez said last school year the district’s entire junior class took the ACT college readiness assessment, the nation’s most widely accepted standardized test for college admissions, and scores improved significantly. He said this will be repeated this school year.
Rodrequez also said he hopes the district can work with Metropolitan Community College Longview Campus to expand the number of courses Grandview students can take for dual high school and college credit.
He noted he welcomes the opportunity to talk to neighborhood groups and homes associations in the Martin City K-8 School catchment area. Interested groups may contact him at email@example.com or by calling 816-316-5023.