By Max Goodwin
The intersection of 82nd Terrace and Troost will soon undergo changes designed to calm traffic as part of Kansas City’s Vision Zero, an initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries in KCMO by 2030.
The city selected six intersections as pilot projects for improvement based on where fatalities have happened. The intersection of 82nd Terrace and Troost was in need of some changes. Sophia Broadway, 61, was fatally hit by a car while crossing the street at that intersection this past October.
“This is one of the most dangerous places for pedestrians in the city and that’s why we chose it for intervention,” Transportation Planner Bobby Evans said at the most recent Marlborough neighborhood meeting.
Upon evaluating the intersection, visibility was determined to be an issue, so there will be more lighting added. A second crosswalk will be added across Troost, and the crosswalks will be made more visible. Bump outs will be added to the west side corners of the intersection to slow cars that turn off Troost. There will also be increased landscaping at the intersection and possibly bus-only lanes to increase driver awareness at the intersection.
That’s the idea that Vision Zero is based on, that traffic fatalities and severe injuries can be prevented by designing streets with the idea of safe mobility in mind.
“It’s a mental shift in how we mine, engineer and build our roads to understand that humans are going to fail and that we can prevent fatal and severe crashes and saving lives is not expensive,” Evans said. “It treats this as more of a public health approach.”
The Vision Zero Resolution was passed by the city council in May 2020. Kansas City needs these improvements more than comparable cities, traffic fatality statistics indicate. Kansas City has 15.1 traffic fatalities per 100,000 people each year. That is more than the rest of the state of Missouri, more than the United States as a whole, and more than other cities of comparable size.
In the past ten years, 883 people have died in traffic fatalities in Kansas City and 4,345 have been seriously injured. This has resulted in $15.4 billion in indirect economic loss to the city, according to a presentation given to the Marlborough Neighborhood about the coming traffic calming changes.
There are several elements of emphasis in Vision Zero, including 50 locations that will receive what are called lead pedestrian intervals on traffic signals, including at 82nd Terrace and Troost.
“Before a light turns green, pedestrians are getting a head start, that’s what a lead pedestrian interval is. This is a proven counter measure to improve pedestrian safety,” Evans said.
There were also 50 locations around the city chosen for new designs to the streets for traffic calming. Two of those locations are Marlborough, on 72nd street between Forest Ave. and Tracy Ave., and at 80th and Lydia Ave.
The designs for these two specific areas are not yet done, but will consist of some combination of ways to reduce speeds using chicanes, bump outs, raised crosswalks, on-street parking, chokers or speed humps.
Another feature currently being proposed for street plans in the Marlborough neighborhood are bike lanes that would be added along Hickman Mills Dr. and Prospect Ave. There would be a bike line on each side of Hickman Mills Dr. starting at 77th street to Prospect Ave, then along Prospect to 85th street.
All proposed bike lanes would be protected from vehicle traffic. There are multiple options for how the lanes along Prospect might look. The bike lanes would connect with other trails and establish a protected bike lane that stretches across four different city council districts.
“We’re really starting to build out a connected protected bike lane network,” Transportation Director Jason Waldron said. “Rather than just build pockets of bike lanes, we really want to connect neighborhoods and destinations to a network.”
And those bike lanes fit into the overall goal of calming traffic in the area too.