Wednesday, Oct. 03 2012 8:58AM
Progress on Blackwell interchange
MoDOT agrees to help with funding
By Russ Pulley
A long-awaited interchange at U.S 50 and Blackwell Road is getting much closer to becoming concrete instead of an idea.
Lee’s Summit has created a financing plan for the $25 million project which includes a $12.5 million match through the Missouri Department of Transportation, along with city contributions from tax-increment financing and a city sales tax for roads.
MoDOT has agreed to the match and is working on documents for formal acceptance to be voted on by the City Council later this year, Michael Park, city traffic engineer, told the Public Works Committee on Sept. 18.
That interchange had been a concept for “the last 40 years” but gained more momentum in 2007 when the city annexed about 965 acres east of the Todd George Parkway interchange for future development, Park said.
That year, the city created the East 50 Highway Corridor Tax-increment Financing District, which included Lee’s Summit Medical Center and other land adjacent to Todd George Parkway and Blackwell Road.
The TIF project area including the medical center was activated and money collected through the district has paid about $1.9 million for design of the improvements. That $1.9 million will be used for Lee’s Summit’s share of the match to begin land acquisition.
The TIF would contribute $6 million to the interchange construction by issuing bonds that would also need City Council approval. Environmental assessments and neighborhood meetings and most of the design have been completed.
Mayor Randy Rhoads said the interchange would open additional land for commercial development and provide a second access to the hospital while improving traffic flow on Shenandoah Drive.
“It could alleviate traffic on Todd George by distributing the traffic a little bit,” Rhoads said.
Jackie DeSouza, chief executive officer of Lee’s Summit Medical Center, said “This new interchange will make it much easier for ambulances and patients to get to Lee’s Summit Medical Center’s campus for emergency care and all health care services. We look forward to the day it will be complete, knowing it will be an inconvenience for some during the construction.”
The interchange design calls for a roundabout interchange with U.S. 50, with Blackwell traveling underneath the highway, an outer road system and roundabouts at Blackwell intersections at Blue Parkway and Shenandoah Drive.
The new interchange also would allow MoDOT an option for closing the median at Smart Road and U.S. 50. That at-grade intersection is a safety concern where most of the “high severity crashes” at the location happen when vehicles are making a left-hand turn, crossing east-bound lanes to turn left and go west on the highway. MoDOT is considering closing the median.
Motorists wanting to access westbound U.S. 50 would use the outer road to reach the high way at Blackwell.
MoDOT will manage construction and would expect to take bids in October 2014, with public meeting and taking bids in October of 2014, and construction taking about 18 months.