City contractors from Redford Construction install new water lines on Red Bridge Road. The lines are wrapped in a plastic polymer to help prevent corrosion. Photo by Jill Draper

Red Bridge Road construction delayed

“I cannot wait until it’s done.”

By Jill Draper

The good news—Kansas City has decided to replace a major water line five years ahead of schedule to avoid tearing up Red Bridge Road just a few years after the segment between Holmes and Wornall is reconfigured and repaved.

The bad news—the end date for the project now has moved from fall 2023 to summer 2024, according to James Wang, chief engineer for Kansas City Parks and Recreation. Wang also said the new 16-inch water line has upped the project’s price tag from $6.6 million to $7.8 million.

The water line replacement should wrap up by the end of this month, followed by the installation of a new stormwater system, he said. And while the completion date for the entire project, including sidewalks and landscaping, has been extended into 2024, all road construction should be done by the end of 2023.

In the meantime, contractors have been working at both ends of the 2,600-foot-long road segment, sometimes starting shifts as early as 1:30 a.m. to lessen the impact of water cutoffs for nearby businesses.

Still, some businesses are feeling the pain. “I cannot wait until it’s done,” said Courtney Cole, manager of Sonic Drive-In, who noted a “drastic drop” in customers since road construction began. Frank Leone of Mamma Leone’s Pizza agreed. “As soon as they started back in May, you could tell a difference right away.” 

Road construction began last spring, but the relocation of utility lines started about three years ago. This was a huge effort that included AT&T Local, AT&T Transmission, Consolidated, Spire, K-Powernet, Google Fiber, Zayo, United Private Network, Spectrum and Evergy. 

Because Red Bridge Road is designated as a boulevard from Wornall east to Blue River Road, the project is being managed by KC Parks as part of the department’s 135 miles of boulevards and parkways. Otherwise, the project would be managed by the Public Works Department.

When the Red Bridge Road makeover is complete, Wang said it will look more like a true boulevard with two lanes in each direction separated by a grassy median up to 16 feet wide or more in spots. Landscaping will include trees, grass and native plants to catch rainwater. Dedicated left turn lanes will be built at the Wornall intersection, controlled by a new traffic light (a roundabout was considered but rejected).  A 5-foot-wide sidewalk will run along the north side of Red Bridge, opposite a 10-foot-wide multiuse trail on the south. A crosswalk will connect both sides at Oak Street.

Mamma Leone’s owner said another crosswalk closer to his restaurant and Sonic would be nice, since customers often walk across the road from Wonderscope.

Paving and striping are months away, however. “We will probably look at it,” said Wang.

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