New projects improve neighborhoods

Public Works

A new bridge downtown, 1 million streetcar rides and the City’s first protected bike lanes were just a few benchmarks to wrap up a busy and productive 2016 for the Public Works Department. The department completed several capital projects, including the 20th Street Streetscape project in the historic Crossroads Art District and the second phase of the 135th Street reconstruction project. Public Works project managers also accepted MARC sustainability awards for environmentally-friendly methods on three capital projects -- Troost Streetscape, 20th Street Streetscape and the KC Road Diet Initiative.

Public Works continues to move forward in 2017. The City’s north side will see progress on a project to upgrade a section of Northeast Pleasant Valley Road. The improvements will cross into Gladstone, spanning from North Indiana to North Brighton Avenue. The overhaul includes road realignment and widening, new sidewalks and bike lanes that will connect to bike trails in the area. Construction is already underway and will be completed in fall 2018. A second phase of improvements to Northeast Pleasant Valley Road, from North Brighton Avenue to Searcy Creek Parkway, is being designed.

Another northland project is slated to start this fall. The reconstruction of Englewood Boulevard from US 169 to Waukomis Drive is in the right-of-way acquisition process. The complete street project will bring new sidewalks and bike lanes and convert the roadway to a three-lane thoroughfare with new streetlights and traffic signals.

On the city’s east side, work is expected to start this summer on the 22nd -23rd Street corridor improvement project. The project will include road realignment, widening, new curbs and gutters, new sidewalks and storm sewer and water main upgrades between Brooklyn Avenue and Chestnut Avenue.

Crews are preparing to start work on several bridge projects this year. Just south of the Buck O’Neil Bridge, the rehabilitation of two bridges over the Union Pacific Railroad will start this spring. The Woodswether bridge viaducts will receive structural steel repairs, concrete and bridge joint replacement and more. The bridges are a vital connector to the historic West Bottoms.

Neighbors in the northland will see a new Old Tiffany Springs Road Bridge over 1-29, about 500 feet north of the existing bridge. The new bridge will be a divided four lane roadway with sidewalks from North Congress Avenue to Northwest Skyview Avenue. Trail users will enjoy the connection from the bridge to the local trail system.

Work on the Paseo Bridge over Brush Creek is slated to bid this spring and includes repairs to the bridge railing and façade, which will reopen the Brush Creek walking trail and allow improved east-west pedestrian access through the area.

Parks and Recreation

Several adventurous play amenities were added to Kansas City parks, including a zip line and treetop adventure course, Go Ape!, at Camp Lake of the Woods in Swope Park. A play experience that features hill slides, zip lines, rope structures, spinners and outdoor musical instruments was installed along Karnes Boulevard in Roanoke Park. Two 44-foot long embankment slides were introduced to the lower Concourse Playground in Kessler Park along with basketball court renovations and the installation of two Futsal courts. An all-inclusive playground opened in Tiffany Hills Park and a toddler-focused KaBOOM! playground was built in Hyde Park in just eight hours with help from hundreds of volunteers.

Our City of Fountains sprung back to life as two major fountains were reenergized in 2016. The William Volker Memorial Fountain’s dramatic 28-foot waterfall fountain along Brush Creek in Theis Park, which had been dormant for several seasons, was repaired and activated. Additionally, the fountain’s five bronze sculptures by Swedish artist Carl Milles were removed, cleaned, conserved, and reinstalled. The Henry Wollman Bloch Fountain, located in front of Union Station, also underwent massive renovation and upgrades that included the addition of beautiful new lighting and water jets with choreographed presentations.

A trail expansion and 350-foot pedestrian bridge connecting the Indian Creek and Blue River Trails were opened. This new section will eventually connect to the Trolley Track Trail. A Historic Northeast KC interchange at Independence Boulevard and Benton Boulevard was significantly improved and made safer with the addition of modern traffic signal equipment, dedicated left turn lanes and crossing islands. The intersection was aesthetically enhanced through the installation of neighborhood markers, brick pavers and landscaping.

In 2017, KC Parks turns 125 years old and we continue to grow and improve! A few of our planned projects include playground resurfacing and equipment upgrades in the ever-popular Penguin Park and renovation of the outdoor pool at the former Vivion Road YMCA with a planned 2018 opening. The recently-acquired former McCoy Elementary school site will be further developed into a park with more amenities added. Historic Union Cemetery is getting a new and improved roadway and Arletta Park‘s shelter will be replaced and parking lot access added. New lighting in the Watts Mill area along Indian Creek Trail will also be installed.

The highly anticipated Kansas City MLB Urban Youth Academy (UYA), which features three state-of-the-art baseball fields, one softball field and indoor training facility, will be fully operational this fall. The project, located in Parade Park, enhances the iconic 18th & Vine District and supports the existing efforts of MLB to attract more youth to the game. UYA’s initial goal is to serve approximately 800-1,000 youth, ages 6-18, per year. In addition to providing free, year-round baseball and softball instruction, the Academy will provide youth access to educational and vocational programs.

Many more KC Parks projects ranging from trail extensions and tree plantings to shelter improvements and new signage will take place throughout the City in 2017. Stay tuned!

KC Water hits a milestone in water infrastructure improvements

Water main breaks, an all-too-common sight in Kansas City just a few years ago, have fallen dramatically thanks to a program that recently hit a key milestone.

KC Water laid the 100th mile of new pipe under its ambitious Water Main Replacement program, which is designed to strategically improve the 2,800-mile system that delivers high-quality drinking water to almost 500,000 Kansas City residents scattered over 319 square miles.

“Infrastructure is crumbling nationwide due to decades of neglect,” said Terry Leeds, Director of KC Water. “We’ve implemented a strategic, data-driven approach aimed at catching up and getting ahead of water infrastructure improvements that will serve today’s customers and future generations.” The replacement program isn’t random. It’s a data-driven process that began three years ago.

First, KC Water engineers pulled thousands of records to assess two things: 1) Likelihood of a water main failure – the physical factors affecting pipe in the ground (age, size, material, break history, soil conditions, etc.); and 2) Consequence of a water main failure – the impact of a particular water main break (for example, a water main break that disrupts water service to a large hospital would have a dramatically larger consequence as compared to a small water main break in a remote location).

Next, engineers divided the 2,800 miles of water main into 70,000 individual pipe segments. Each segment was graded and prioritized to identify water main segments that are more likely to fail and which would have the worst impact if that happened.

The results have been impressive. In Fiscal Year 2013 (May 1, 2012 through April 30, 2013), 67 water main breaks occurred for every 100 miles of pipe, well above the 25 breaks per 100 miles that occur on average nationally. In Fiscal Year 2014, the Water Main Replacement program was implemented. In the current fiscal year (May 1, 2016 through April 30, 2017), only 22.7 breaks have occurred per 100 miles, a 66 percent drop from four years ago. The improvements can be attributed to a combination of increased strategic investments and fewer drought years.

Given the age of Kansas City’s system – KC Water pipe averages 44 years in service, and some of it was installed in the late 1800s – and other factors like the Midwestern freeze-thaw climate cycle, water main breaks will continue to occur.

But KC Water’s strategic, data-driven Water Main Replacement program, which calls for replacing 28 miles of pipe per year, is going a long way toward minimizing the number of water main breaks and the disruptions they cause for customers.


Recently added enhancements to the guest experience at KCI include the installation of brighter and more efficient in-terminal lighting, the addition of 700 new seats to the public areas of the terminals with easily accessible power outlets and an upgrade to the complimentary Wi-Fi network. Additionally, the Aviation Department has relocated the cell phone lot to a more convenient location. Underway is a project that will create a more efficient security screening process and bring additional restrooms, concessions and other amenities to passengers flying American, Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit. The Aviation Department has also partnered with KCP&L to bring charging stations for electric vehicles to the Economy Parking lots at KCI.

In 2016 Kansas City International Airport served more than 11 million passengers. 2017 will be highlighted by several new nonstop routes, including Southwest Airlines to Austin, Texas, and Allegiant to Destin/Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.

The KC Aviation Department owns and operates Kansas City International Airport and Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport. The department’s mission is to provide outstanding airport services in a safe and cost-effective manner for the benefit of citizens, visitors, airlines and customers. The department is an enterprise fund department and is supported wholly by airport user charges. No general tax fund revenues are used for the administration, promotion, operations or maintenance of the airports in the system.