133rd St & Inverness Rd Public Meeting
By Kathy Feist
KCMO Public Works will be hosting a virtual public meeting on Thursday, February 25, from 6-7 pm to discuss feedback, findings, and next steps for the temporary closure at W. 133rd St. & Inverness Dr.
KCMO Public Works installed barricades at the intersection of 133rd & Inverness in early November 2020 as a traffic calming pilot test. Over the last few months, feedback was collected from nearly 200 residents about the temporary closure. The goal of the virtual meeting is to provide an overview of the project, share the feedback received, and discuss options for moving forward.
Maggie Green with KC Public Works says 6th District Representatives Andrea Bough and Kevin McManus met with members of Public Works Friday morning, February 19, to discuss funding options for “permanent traffic calming solutions” at the site. While this sounds ominous to those expecting the barricades to be removed, Green emphasizes that removal was one of the options under discussion.
Homeowners in the New Castle development have complained for years of high traffic volume and litter on Inverness Dr., a city street that cuts through the neighborhood and connects 135th Street on the south end with Blue Ridge Rd on the north. A short intersection, 133rd Street, leads drivers to the Southmarket Shopping Center, which includes Walmart, Lowe’s, Commerce Bank, McDonald’s and numerous retail stores and restaurants. The backway allows drivers coming from the east, including New Castle residents, to bypass congested traffic traveling through the main entrances in the shopping strip. A new QuikTrip, planned to replace the former Applebee’s within the shopping corridor, will add to the snafu.
More traffic generated by a QuikTrip was a concern to New Castle residents, who were made aware of its plans in late September by the south Kansas City neighborhood advocate group Center Planning and Development. After listening to the residents’ complaints, Jessica Jensen, the attorney working on behalf of QuikTrip, decided the traffic problem “was an existing issue unrelated to QuikTrip,” according to QT spokesperson Jessica Glavas. As a “courtesy gesture” Jensen set up a meeting between New Castle residents, KC Public Works, and City Councilpersons Bough and McManus. From there, QuikTrip was out of the picture. After years of ignored complaints to the city, New Castle finally had the city’s ear.
(Former New Castle HOA President, Tommie Lampe, said in an interview with The Telegraph that the neighborhood never did approve of the plans for QuikTrip. Despite that, only one resident appeared before the City Plan Commission to officially object. QuikTrip’s appeal for a special use permit was approved by the Board of Zoning Adjustment in October and City Plan Commission in November. Still awaiting final approval, QT expects construction to begin this spring.)
On November 11, Public Works quietly erected barricades at 133rd and Inverness, only a week or two before the busy holiday shopping season, creating anger and frustration among drivers who were given no forewarning of the closure. Some began circumnavigating the barriers by driving on the grass and sidewalks. Detour and warning signs were finally erected in December.
According to Green, no traffic study was conducted prior to placement of the barriers to verify the neighborhood’s complaints of heavy traffic; though she indicated a previous one exists from the time roundabouts were installed along Inverness Rd. The roundabouts were placed in 2005 to decrease large delivery truck traffic, according to neighbors in the area.
Arguments from both sides of the fence–and every angle in between–have legitimate concerns. On one hand, both Inverness Dr. and 133rd St. are owned and paid for by city taxpayers…which also includes New Castle residents. New Castle residents claim they must maintain the area by picking up litter and must deal with traffic concerns in its 55+ neighborhood. On one hand, the closure is a nuisance to commuters; on the other hand, most residential communities that back up to a busy shopping strip are closed off to its traffic.
After the December 22 Telegraph story, this newspaper editor has received calls all hours of the day and night from partisans–some New Castle residents content with the barricades, some New Castle residents secretly against the barricades. Some commuters siding with New Castle residents; some vehemently against.
What is your opinion?
The meeting will be held via Microsoft Teams and can have as many as 300 virtual participants. To access the meeting, participants can go to the Microsoft Teams link and click on “Continue on this Browser,” or contact firstname.lastname@example.org who continues to accept feedback. If you do not have access to a computer or mobile device, you may access the meeting by calling 1-872-212-5076 and entering the Conference ID: 634880897#