KCUR News
1:47 am
Wed January 7, 2009

Listening Post: I-70 Impact Study Weighed

Kansas City, Mo. – Missouri highway planners and engineers are starting to learn the impact of what might be the first real modernization of Interstate 70 through Kansas City.

The proposed project will become reality only if funding becomes available. KCUR's Dan Verbeck listened at the first public hearing and filed this account.

Missouri highway planners and engineers are starting to learn the impact of what might be the first real modernization of Interstate 70 through Kansas City, if money is available.

In a small room at St. Paul's School of Theology, Missouri Department of Transportation officials and consultants hoped to hear what the public thinks of an I-70 revamp, from the Kansas state line, east to I-470. The highway has not had a considerable update since it was completed in the 190's.Project engineer Steven Hamadi can hear from politicians anytime, but this was for people who live along the route.

He said MoDOT is sensitive to preservation of neighborhoods and to fairness when taking land for expansion. In his words, "we don't want to go thru an area that is economically disadvantaged and target them." He said other considerations include historic buildings as well as flora and fauna, what Hamadi refers to as bugs and bodies,' in the traditional environmental impact sense.

Margaret Mitchell lives just north of the Benton Curve, the perennial traffic bottleneck just east of the downtown district. She told a planner she is worried they will take her house. Ms Mitchell said she has lived in that house since 1951 and in the neighborhood since 1933. She is assured no decisions have been made and that everybody's situation counts for consideration as the highway plan is being drawn. Four distinct strategies are being considered, from doing nothing, to fixing bottlenecks to adding high speed lanes into and out of the downtown district.