Lee’s Summit residents have waited decades for improvements to Lee’s Summit Road, an often used route from Douglas Street north through Kansas City to Independence.
They’ll wait a little longer, but the two cities this week unveiled the preliminary design that is intended to make the road much safer.
The corridor leads to Truman Medical Center-Lakewood, Lakewood and other subdivisions in north Lee’s Summit.
The majority of the 2.5 miles of the project in Lee’s Summit and Kansas City will become a three-lane road, with the center lane for a continuous two-way turning lane. The half mile from Strother Road to Gregory Boulevard will be four lanes, divided with a median. There will be a multi-use trail along the entire east side, with paved shoulders on the Lee’s Summit side, which will become bike lanes on the Kansas City section, with a side walk in front of the hospital. A safety analysis for 2007-09 showed 26 crashes in the corridor, with 15 injuries and 1 fatality, one of the highest crash rates in Jackson County, according to the Lee’s Summit Public Works Department.
Those numbers don’t include the accidents at the intersections with Gregory Boulevard or at Colbern and Douglas roads, which would significantly increase the number.
“We support the city in this endeavor,” said Mark Reid, general manager of the Lakewood Property Owners Association. “We think it will be a great enhancement for Lakewood.”
Construction is to begin in 2014 and is expected to be finished in 2016.
Visitors at an open-house meeting Jan. 29 held at Oakwood Baptist Church, on Lee’s Summit Road, had a chance to look over the design and timeline for construction. The plan is mostly set.
“There may some tweaks we can make here and there, but this is where we think it will end up,” Lee’s Summit Deputy Director of Public Works Dena Mezger said.
Land acquisition will begin soon, she said.
It will mostly follow the current route to avoid taking any more land than necessary from adjacent landowners, Mezger said.
The construction estimate is $12.6 million, a cost shared by Kansas City and Lee’s Summit and including $4.6 million of federal money.
The two cities have been discussing improvements for a long time. Lee’s Summit officials preferred to coordinate the work with Kansas City and Jackson County as much as possible.
“We wanted to do the whole thing,” Mezger said. “You get a better bang for your buck if you do it all together.”
Work will be in phases, and construction will have to wait until rebuilding Strother Road north of the airport is finished so it can provide a detour.
There is a gap in the improvements, between Gregory and Anderson Drive, where there is no funding allocated for that section of the road in Kansas City. Work starts again at Anderson Drive, in Kansas City, to fix the bridge and widen the road to three lanes in a separate project by Jackson County in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Transportation, using money in a fund know as County Urban Road System, Mezger said. That work is scheduled to start this year and be finished in 2014. It is planned to remain “substantially” open during construction.
Lee’s Summit Mayor Randy Rhoads said the gap is a disappointment and getting the road fixed is complicated by having three governments with jurisdiction.
“That’s at the very edge of (Kansas City) and they want to put their money where there is quicker return and more obvious results, it takes longer for them to make it a priority,” Rhoads said.
Strother Road financing was part of the 2010 bond issue. City staff is working on preliminary design and acquiring right of way for that project.
The other project in the bond issue, Tudor Road, is being built in two phases, with Phase 1 from Douglas to Main waiting on right-of-way negotiations. The city has started talking with the Union Pacific Railroad to bridge over its tracks to continue the road in Phase 2.