By Jill Draper/Kathy Feist
Red Bridge Road
Construction continues on widening a half-mile segment of Red Bridge Road between Holmes and Wornall, and so do motorists’ frustrations with this long-running project. Various attendees at the 6th District community meeting on Aug. 25 at the Trailside Center criticized the city for taking so long to finish.
“Where’s the accountability?” asked one, while another stated, “Any business would not operate this way.”
Businesses in the form of contractors and utilities came under criticism, too, however. Jonathan Duncan, newly elected as 6th In-District City Councilman, noted that none of the contractors talked to each other during the initial phase of the $7.8 million project when at least 10 different utility companies had to relocate lines. One of them, Spire Energy, was on-site four times trying to figure out what to do, he said.
Both Duncan and Andrea Bough, 6th District At-Large City Councilwoman, said the city had learned from the situation, and officials are taking steps to ensure it does not happen in the future.
One step occurred two years ago when the City Council voted to adopt stricter standards and insist on better communication with utility companies scheduling underground work that involves cutting into streets. The policy also requires an annual update for capital improvements and shared online mapping for all projects.
Another step, Ordinance No. 230741, was introduced last week to improve the city’s permitting process that many contractors have complained about. The ordinance has been referred to the Special Committee for Legal Review before a vote is considered.
Let’s not rehash the past, but look for solutions now that we’re nearing the end of the Red Bridge Road project, Bough emphasized.
How near is the end? Two-way traffic is open on the south side of the road, while contractors finish installing stormwater infrastructure on the north side, said James Wang, chief engineer for Kansas City Parks and Recreation. Paving will take place in October, and drivers can expect all four lanes to open in November. Also during November the city will install new traffic signals at both the Holmes and Wornall intersections.
The paving that he expects to happen in October will be a base course that can be driven on. He hopes a surface course will follow in November, depending on the weather, and he’s looking into whether that procedure can be speeded up. “I feel bad all the utility work took so long,” Wang said. “I know it’s been frustrating.”
Landscaping will take place in March and April when workers plant trees, shrubs and grasses in the median and along a new 10-foot-wide multiuse trail on the south side of Red Bridge Road. Wang is also looking into whether any of the plantings will be native species that support birds, bees and butterflies.
The KC Parks Department is overseeing the project rather than Public Works because Red Bridge Road is designated as a boulevard from Wornall east to Blue River Road. KC Parks manages about 135 miles of boulevards and parkways within the city limits. Wang said when the project is complete sometime in 2024, it will look more like a true boulevard.
75th and Wornall Road
The Waldo Redevelopment Plan that affects 75th and Wornall is now going on 10 years with little or no action. But that is about to change.
The city’s Public Works department has been accepting bids for the reconstruction of Wornall Road from 74th Street to 79th Street, an extension of the Trolley Track Trail to 75th Street, safer pedestrian pathways, and new LED streetlights. The bids will be reviewed in September and a contract issued in the fall, according to Courtney Stephens, Kansas City Public Information Officer, speaking on behalf of the Public Works Department. That project will begin in early 2024 and take 15 to 18 months to complete. Upon completion, the city will begin on another segment of the Redevelopment Plan, which is to close off Broadway at 75th Street, reconstruct Broadway into a 14-foot sidewalk and create an enclosed retail center with landscaping. The green infrastructure in the parking lots is designed to help with stormwater management.
The first leg of the Waldo Redevelopment Plan, reconstructing the road from 85th Street to 89th Street was completed in 2019. Repavement of Wornall from 85th Street to 79th followed.
Much of the delay in the final leg of the Wornall Road reconstruction was due to one national retailer that was slow in signing a right of way contract with the city. By the time the contract was signed, all other right of way contracts with businesses along Wornall had expired. “Temporary construction easements are needed to satisfy slope requirements for driveways and for sidewalk construction,” explains Stephens in an emailed statement. “With easement renewal underway no additional delays are expected at this time.”
Road construction over the next two years will coincide with the construction of the 300-unit Waldo74Broadway apartment complex planned for 7421 Broadway. “Everything is going to be torn up,” says Waldo CID Executive Director Chelsea Kaplan. “But when it’s done it’s going to be nice and a much needed improvement for a high traffic road.”
In 2018, traffic calming measures were introduced for Gregory Boulevard between Wornall Road and Oak Street . The project includes a road diet (narrowing) that includes bike or mobility lanes, seven curb extensions and concrete bulb outs between Main and Oak streets, improved pedestrian crossings and some landscaping. Plans have created concerns among apartment tenants whose only parking option is on Gregory Boulevard. Councilwoman Andrea Bough’s office requested the mobility lanes planned for both sides of the street be reduced to one side to accommodate the anticipated parking. Currently, those plans are being revised. According to project manager Randy Alewine, construction will begin in September and be completed this year.
Holmes Road 79th-85th Streets
Currently Holmes Road from 79th to 85th streets is undergoing water main replacement that will continue to March of 2024.
Holmes Road Martin City
It’s been a long four-year wait for the Holmes Road Improvement Plan to come to fruition in Martin City. What’s in the plan is more waiting. According to Project Manager Randy Alewine Holmes Road construction from Blue Ridge Boulevard to 137th Street is pending until construction funding is in place. The $10 million project includes widening the two-lane roadway to three lanes, a five-foot sidewalk on the east side, a 10-foot multi-use trail on the west side, new curbing and gutters and new street lighting. Some amendments were required for additional work items submitted in early August that require approval.
Blue Ridge Blvd
Currently in the planning stages, Blue Ridge Boulevard from Holmes to Prospect will undergo construction starting in December for water main replacement. It is projected to end in July 2024.
East Red Bridge Road
Red Bridge Road Phase 2, from Blue River Road to Montgall Avenue, is planned to begin in 2027. The project will improve this section of Red Bridge Road to a three-lane urban street with curb, sidewalk, street lights, storm sewer, and multi-use trail.
87th Street Bridge
The 87th Street Bridge replacement over I-435 began in late April and will be completed on time by September 30th, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation. New pavement markings were placed along I-435 from Bannister to 79th Street shutting down the highway between the hours of 7 pm to 6 am starting August 30th and completed by September 1st.