Lee’s Summit interchange proposed for state sales-tax projects

rpulley@lsjournal.comJuly 9, 2014 

Efforts to add an important Lee’s Summit interchange to a list of projects to be financed by a proposed statewide sales tax are getting traction.

A key Mid-America Regional Council committee has endorsed the idea of including the U.S. 50/Missouri 291 South interchange on the project list proposed by the Missouri Department of Transportation.

MoDOT staff has adjusted its prior list to include that interchange just south of downtown Lee’s Summit, which is also known as the Jefferson Street Bridge.

The first draft left it off, despite the city having a plan with the state to cost share for the project.

Mark Dickey, vice president of the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce, said MoDOT’s District Engineer Daniel Niec at the June 27 meeting of the chamber’s Governmental Relations Committee told its members the project was added because of public comments it had requested on its draft list.

The final list still needs approval from the Missouri Transportation and Highway Commission, which is to vote on the issue July 9.

Amendment 7 would amend the Missouri Constitution and levy a three-quarter cent sales tax for 10 years to finance transportation projects including bridges, roads, rail, pedestrian and bicycle and ports.

The chamber and Lee’s Summit leaders had been suggesting residents contact MoDOT and ask the agency to add the interchange.

“We’re very excited about that, we thank everybody who sent a comment,” Dickey said. He said rebuilding the 50-year-old bridge and interchange is important for safety, to relieve congestion and economic development.

Dickey said Niec told the committee MoDOT got about 1,000 responses to its earlier proposed list which had left off the Lee’s Summit project. It got 150 specifically from the Lee’s Summit area.

The Governmental Relations Committee decided it would recommend the Chamber’s Executive Board endorse the sales tax. It is to decide that July 16.

The Mid-America Regional Council’s Total Transportation Policy Committee also has thrown its support to putting the interchange on the project list, Mayor Randy Rhoads announced in an email July 1. He said in that message that at a special meeting that committee added the interchange to its list of projects it wants to be financed by the sales tax.

Brad Cox, chairman of the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council, said his group also was thankful for those in the community who took time to let MoDOT know the intechanges is an extremely important initiative.

“It puts us back in place to really accomplish some great development and redevelopment over the next few years and hopefully stem the tide of deterioration at that intersection, that’s due mainly to lack of access,” Cox said.

MARC’s recommendation is not to be confused with a different proposal for MARC approval of funds for the interchange, under a different financing plan.

The state and the city are working on federal funding for the interchange with money funneled through MARC, but that decision would be made probably in August, said Dena Mezger, Acting Director of Public Works.

MoDOT and the city have agreed to split the cost of the 50/291 project and Lee’s Summit voters have approved a $10 million bond issue to cover the city’s share of the project.

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