By Joe Jarosz
August 20, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Improvements at the intersection of Independence Avenue and Benton Boulevard are slowly getting closer to becoming official.
At last week’s Neighborhoods, Housing and Healthy Communities meeting, Scott Overbay, project manager for the Parks and Recreation Department, gave a short update on where the project stands. After the presentation, the committee approved 3-0, minus an absent Jim Glover, to allow the director of Parks and Recreation to enter into a cooperative grant funding agreement with the Missouri Department of Transportation for the Independence Boulevard and Benton Boulevard Intersection Improvements Project for just under $1.5 million.
The grant agreement allows city officials to bid, award and administer the intersection project. The city is required to provide a $660,000 Public Improvements Advisory Committee match. The project includes raised islands at the crosswalks, crossing signals, sidewalks set back from the curb line and improvements to vehicle traffic circulation. Overbay said the islands are positioned in a way that would not prohibit any future streetcar plans along Independence Avenue.
Overbay continued, saying the project has multiple goals it still needs to accomplish before completion. The goals include: preserving the historical significance of the intersection, engage the community on the project and to minimize the impact of the project. He expects the bidding for the project to begin in February of 2015 and construction to begin later that year, with a completion date of summer 2016.
“The project is still in the design phase but it is almost ready to be presented to the Missouri Department of Transportation,” Overbay said.
After the presentation, councilman Jermaine Reed asked Overbay to further explain the community involvement in the project. The intersection currently touches three neighborhoods in the Northeast; Lykins, Independence Plaza and Scarritt. Overbay told the committee the parks department has done an excellent job of communicating with area residents.
“Two open house meetings have been held to gather feedback from the public,” Overbay said, adding that a steering committee for the project has been made up of residents from the Northeast area.
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