Dorri Partain
Assistant Editor

As the final, yes, final — stretch of a reconstructed Independence Boulevard is completed to connect with The Paseo and the entrance and exit ramps of Interstate 35 — the parks and recreation department works to install “light fountains” to highlight and complement the completed intersection known as The Paseo Gateway.

Image courtesy of Paseo

As southbound drivers exit I-35 onto The Paseo, they will be greeted with an expanse of green space, flanked by a light “fountain” art installation on each side. With each fountain  composed of 18 poles of varying heights,  the tallest pole stands at 40 feet, according to Lane Johnson — public information officer for the Parks and Recreation department. Each pole will feature an array of LED lighting, which alternates colors. The oval concrete bases, measuring 26 feet in diameter at their widest point, were poured toward the end of May.

Johnson said these installations were not created by an artist or part of the city’s Municipal Art Commission’s One Percent for Art program.

Ground was broken during a ceremony  April 8, 2022 for the Paseo Gateway project, but planning for an improved intersection goes back nearly a dozen years. The first project phases date to 2016, when the vacant Royal Inn at 600 Paseo was purchased by the city and demolished. The Capri Motel across the street was purchased by Kansas City University and razed in 2015 to create a green space leading up the university. These new artistic fountains are stationed on the corners where the motels previously stood.

As both roadways are boulevards, the art installation was proposed and funded by the Kansas City Parks & Recreation department. Johnson said an additional public art piece may be commissioned later this year through the city’s One Percent for Art program. Roadway improvements — which re-aligned The Paseo and created an additional traffic-signal intersection where The Paseo connects to Cliff Drive — were funded through a $5 million Federal surface transportation program and $6.3 million from Kansas City General Obligation (GO) bonds.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the completion of road improvements is planned, but a final date has not been selected, Johnson said. Be sure to follow The Northeast News for more coverage on this story.