One of the first actions I took as a State Legislator was to initiate a conversation with MoDOT to reroute 24 Highway as part of a strategy to reduce heavy truck traffic on Independence Avenue and Boulevard. In addition to improving walkability along Independence Boulevard, and access to our small businesses, this could reduce truck collisions with the railroad bridge at Wilson Road.
It took four years and collaboration with the Northeast Chamber of Commerce, the City Manager’s office, and MoDOT. An agreement was reached, contracts were let and approved, and MoDOT projects that signage should be complete by July 2021. Now developers are talking about sinking millions of dollars to extend Independence Avenue west to Broadway for easier access to downtown. Should that gain momentum, I foresee increased traffic through Northeast and into Independence, which could impact the improvements to walkability and access to our small businesses.
The following link (http://www.bridgingparkmarket.com/) will take you to a site that describes and simulates several different versions and their projected costs, including lowering Highway 9 to street level, and purchasing land from MoDOT to expand downtown development projects that would blend City Market and Columbus Park.
The truck/bridge collisions are just one impediment to access our businesses and community, and easier access to downtown should not be the only objective. Let’s take a look at what needs to be fixed first.