Beyond Our Borders - Missouri River

Credit Neil Nakahodo for KCUR

KCUR's extensive Beyond Our Borders project explores the history and impact of four distinct lines in Kansas City - Troost Avenue, the State Line, the Wyandotte-Johnson county line, and the Missouri River. For more than a year, we've been learning about how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them.

Here, you'll find work related to our ongoing examination of how the Missouri River unites and divides our community.

STORY IDEAS: This work doesn't end. If you have tips or story ideas for Beyond Our Borders, reach out to Laura Ziegler, community engagement reporter, lauraz@kcur.org, or Briana O’Higgins, director of digital content, at briana@kcur.org.

Alyson Raletz / KCUR

The Northland. Kansas City north. Northtown (also spelled Northtowne in some cases.)

Whatever you call the part of the Kansas City metropolitan area north of the Missouri River, we wanted to know more about its boundaries. But the answer is a little muddy.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

It's a big week for the Broadway Bridge – expect lane closures and delays as inspectors check the safety of the 60-year-old structure.

“The paint looks OK on Broadway, but when you really get in your bucket truck and you hang over the edge and start looking underneath, there is a lot of deterioration, a lot of areas — they call it section loss,” says Brian Kidwell, assistant Kansas City district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Two years ago, inspectors found problems — big ones — that necessitated closing the bridge for repairs.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

It doesn’t take long to drive a car across the Missouri River.

Depending on traffic, the roughly half-mile trek can take just one minute. But if you don’t have a car, the Missouri River can seem like a much larger obstacle.

According to the U.S. Census, about 84 percent of the Kansas City metro population drives alone to work. That leaves the other 16 percent commuting by other means, like carpooling, public transit, walking, biking or just working from home.

Suzanne Hogan, KCUR

The Missouri River plays an important part in Kansas City's history. But for many people today, it's an obstacle that divides our city. We look into how to cross the river if you don't have a car, and discuss what "The Northland" means.

Julie Denesha / KCUR

As KCUR begins an exploration of how the Missouri River unites and divides the Kansas City metro, we must first consider our unique congregation of bridges. There are 10 of them, if you include the highways. Thirteen if you count the rail tracks that go over the river. And each one — though probably many people can't identify them by name — offers a unique perspective and connection for travelers.

As part of the Beyond Our Borders project, we'll soon take a look at the current state of the bridges and how we use them. But for now, we offer a little bit of history.

Caroline Kull / KCUR

More than half of Kansas City —  51 percent — is located north of the Missouri River, in the area widely referred to as the Northland.

Standing in Berkley Riverfront Park looking across the Missouri River, the Northland is just a stone’s throw away. Yet from south of the river, the Northland can feel like another city altogether.

To figure out why, I spoke with people both close to and far from the Missouri — in the River Market area near downtown Kansas City and at Oak Park Mall across the state line in Overland Park, Kansas.

The DLC / Flickr-CC

Whether you're craving Malaysian almond chicken, French duck confit or even hot dog fried rice, head north of the Missouri River — the Northland has become a dining destination.

James Lee / Flickr-CC

Go north!

Hardly subtle, I know, but without action, you could miss out on what there is to do this weekend north of the Missouri River, which can be misperceived as a boundary instead of the bridge it is to the Northland’s significant entertainment, family attractions and natural charms.

So get some northern exposure this weekend. The all-embracing go-and-doer in you will appreciate it.

1. Parkville River Jam

KCUR

KCUR is northbound. And we need your help.

For the next few months in our Beyond Our Borders project, we're turning our attention to one of Kansas City's most prominent dividers — the Missouri River, which separates the Northland from the urban core.

As we begin to take our reporting across the river, we want to know more about why you already cross it.

Tell KCUR: What's your favorite thing to do north of the Missouri River? 

Kansas City was founded as a Missouri River port, but we've come a long way from our waterway roots. Take Turkey Creek — it flows through Kansas City, Kansas by Southwest Boulevard (and makes for a scenic stop at Merriam's Waterfall Park), but few people know it's there. We talk to three local residents who use art to take a new look at our waterways.

Image courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

The Missouri River's nickname, which evokes a wide current of mud, misses its aesthetic potential. Its most famous admirer may be the Missouri painter George Caleb Bingham.

Maureen Didde/Flickr -- CC

For most Kansas Citians, the only time we interact with the Missouri River is when we drive over one of the many bridges that span it. Local author Patrick Dobson has a different take; he traveled from Montana to Kansas City down the Missouri River in a canoe. 

Guest:

  • Patrick Dobson, author, Canoeing The Great Plains: A Missouri River Summer

After paddling solo 340 miles down the Missouri River, stopping only briefly to catch the teensiest bit of shut-eye, two competitors in the MR340 share their experiences, from paddling through fog to hallucinating on the water.

Guests:

  • Doug Jennings, organizer and longtime participant
  • Amy Sevcik, first-time competitor

Matt Hodapp / KCUR

In the early morning hours of Aug. 12, boaters paddled into the Missouri River from Kaw Point in Kansas City, Kan., the launch site of the MR340. The ultra-marathon race offers participants only 88 hours to finish a voyage across Missouri.

The creator and organizer of the MR340, Scott Mansker, thinks what draws people from all over the world to take part in the race is that challenge of overcoming obstacles.

Marek Uliasz / Flickr-CC

For hundreds of paddlers, the Missouri 340 race is a true test of endurance, but flooding along the Missouri River has put the competition on hold.

The popular canoe race runs 340 miles from Kansas City to St. Charles. Organizers said they felt that heightened water levels would introduce too much debris and keep racers from being able to reach shore when they needed a break. 

Scott Mansker, race director, says postponing the race isn't ideal because people already have taken time off work to race. But the delay ultimately won't kill the competition, he says.

montanatom1950 on Flickr

A long winter of brutally cold temperatures and seemingly endless snowfall led to a deep snowpack in the mountains at the headwaters of the Missouri River. But that doesn’t necessarily mean a higher risk of flooding this spring. 

2011 brought major flooding to many areas along the Missouri River. This year, the snow pack is comparable to those levels. But Kevin Low of the National Weather Service says even though the snow is starting to melt, there are a few differences this year.

Kevin Saff / Flickr/CC

The Missouri River is a significant natural resource for our community. It is a place for recreation and enjoyment, and it provides farmers with water for their crops. The "Big Muddy" is also home to a diverse ecosystem, including the pallid sturgeon. On today's Central Standard, we discuss the history of the Missouri River, its wildlife and efforts to protect it.

Guests:

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

The Missouri River has turned into a harsh home for the pallid sturgeon — commonly known as the "Missouri River dinosaur."

The white flat-nosed fish has been on the planet for more than 70 million years, and it’s been on the federal endangered species list since 1990. But genetic research and stocking efforts are helping these ancient bottom feeder species.

Where You Draw The Lines In Kansas City

Feb 27, 2014
moravings.blogspot.com

A metropolitan area that straddles a state line provides plenty of fodder for a discussion on how Kansas Citians choose to divide themselves.

This week, we wanted to know where you draw the lines in the metropolitan area.

We went on the air and used social media to ask: What are the Kansas City metro’s strongest dividing lines? How do they affect your life?

The Missouri River levels are critically low. If the problem is not resolved soon, area utilities, levees and bridges could be in serious crisis . Today we discuss the effects of dropping water levels and the multimillion dollar expenditure needed to remedy the issue.

Guests:

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