A federal push to make U.S. transportation systems safer, as well as more accessible, affordable, and sustainable will boost a handful of Kansas City modernization projects — including two that would reconnect east-west communities within the metro, the nation’s top transportation official announced Thursday.
Nearly $48.2 million in funding is slated for local planning and capital improvement efforts through a $2.2 billion allocation to modernize roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports, and intermodal transportation, said Pete Buttigieg, U.S. secretary of transportation. All projects selected for Missouri’s funding from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program are in or near Kansas City.
Among the notable projects: The Mid-America Regional Council will receive $5.6 million to fund planning activities for an east-west high-capacity transit corridor from Village West in Wyandotte County, Kansas, through downtown Kansas City, Missouri to Independence, Missouri.
Another effort would create safe, accessible, non-motorized travel routes in KCK, and work to close gaps in the transit system that are worsened by a six-lane highway that cuts through an underserved community.
Selections were made, in part, based on how projects will improve accessibility for all travelers, boost supply chain efficiency, and support racial equity and economic growth — especially in historically disadvantaged communities and areas of persistent poverty.
The funding comes via President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides an additional $7.5 billion over five years for the program to help meet the strong demand to help projects get moving across the country, Buttigieg said.
“We are proud to support so many outstanding infrastructure projects in communities large and small, modernizing America’s transportation systems to make them safer, more affordable, more accessible, and more sustainable,” he said. “Using funds from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this year we are supporting more projects than ever before.”
Projects also were evaluated on several criteria, Buttigieg said, including safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, economic competitiveness and opportunity, partnership and collaboration, innovation, state of good repair, and mobility and community connectivity.
Kansas City area projects include:
- Bi-State Sustainable Reinvestment Corridor — MARC’s $5.6 million in funding to plan the east-west high-capacity transit corridor connecting Wyandotte County, Kansas, to Independence, Missouri. It will complete project development and environmental documentation for zero-emission transportation elements, and advance engineering design for one or more high-capacity transit routes. The project will reduce emissions and enhance public transportation, improve walkability, and improve bicycle infrastructure through the incorporation of zero emission transportation options. It will also improve regional connectivity to economic opportunities in disadvantaged communities, including workforce training.
- US 71 Reconnecting Neighborhoods — The City of Kansas City will receive $5 million for this planning project, which includes a Planning and Environmental Linkages study, NEPA analysis, and conceptual design for US 71, from 85th Street north to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Kansas City. The project seeks to reconnect this underserved community that is bisected by a six-lane highway.
- Noland Multimodal Corridor — The City of Independence will receive $10.1 million to create an approximate 1.7-mile multimodal corridor along the pre-existing Noland Road. It includes adding dedicated north and south bound bike lanes, replacement of more than three miles of derelict sidewalks to be ADA compliant, push-button pedestrian signals, and transit stop improvements. The project will provide safety improvements for all users of the corridor to allow for safer and more accessible transportation. The project will also provide a continuous ADA compliant sidewalk and ramps, which ties into the City’s initiative to create a revitalized commercial district.
- South Main Corridor Improvement Project Phase II — The City of Maryville will receive $5.9 million for a planning project for Phase II of the South Main Corridor Improvement Project that will build on ongoing work to relieve congestion and safely connect residents in underserved neighborhoods to jobs and services via the South Main Street corridor, a common route to downtown. The Phase II planning project, which will analyze crash data includes reviewing existing traffic conditions, lane configurations, signal spacing and timings, traffic control devices, crash patterns and availability of sidewalks and bike routes along the corridor. By relieving congestion and better connecting communities through an important corridor, the project will increase transportation options and help connect and revitalize an underserved community and increase access to jobs and location-efficient affordable housing, resulting in economic benefits.
- US 69 Safe Streets and Sidewalks — The City of Excelsior Springs will receive $21.5 million to rebuild approximately 2 miles of existing streets with curb, gutter, storm drainage, and sidewalks, add approximately 2.3 miles of sidewalk along existing streets, and add approximately 2.5 miles of trail along US-69. The project also includes nine intersections improvements, with signal modifications, round-abouts or pedestrian overpasses. The project will make a dangerous and unwalkable area safe and walkable for pedestrians of all abilities, while incorporating innovative green infrastructure design. The project will connect two separated communities, as well as increase transportation options and access to essential destinations.
Of the $2.2 billion allocated through RAISE in 2022, 50 percent of the funding is designated for projects in urban areas, and 50 percent is planned for more rural projects.
Funded projects on the Kansas side of the state line trend toward higher amounts with outcomes expected further from major city centers. They include:
- Old Smoky Hill River Bridge Replacement — The City of Salina will receive $22.1 million to replace seven bridges over the Old Smoky Hill River, construct approximately 3.4 miles of multi-use accessible trails, improve seven pedestrian crossings, improve three railroad-pedestrian crossings, and install trail lighting. In addition, the project will construct a new, multi-modal hub, three pedestrian bridges, two new electric vehicle charging stations, a pedestrian underpass, a pedestrian boardwalk, and five new recreational boat launches. The new bridges will improve mobility, reduce congestion, and reconnect the City of Salinas’ underserved, neighborhoods to recreational features. The project also upgrades river channel culverts that are currently prone to flooding.
- Flint Hills Trail: Connecting Communities, Cultures, and Landscapes — The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks will receive $24.8 to construct approximately 40-miles of the Flint Hills Trail in Kansas, nearly completing this 118-mile linear park “rail-trail.” The project includes drainage improvements, pipes, culverts, bridges, base improvements, limestone surfacing, fences, gates, bollards, safety improvements and signage. The trail will offer an alternative to driving as well as provide outdoor recreation opportunities in a rural area that is currently fragmented with very few public outdoor recreational areas. There is also opportunity for the project to boost recreation and nature tourism, as evidenced by establishment of ten new businesses related to the trail in the past three years. Planning efforts have considered inputs from the communities being served through four workshops, and the trail will use inclusive interpretative signage and storytelling strategies that portray history and respect the Kaw Nation.
Click here to view a full list of RAISE funding awards.