YAEL T. ABOUHALKAH

Stop whining about KC’s highway improvements

Updated: 2013-04-25T00:15:58Z

By YAEL T. ABOUHALKAH

The Kansas City Star

In the car-happy Kansas City area, any work on highways is going to bring out the boo-birds.

And that’s happening right now as frustrated drivers whine about all the work being done on I-35 near the downtown loop.

But what do these motorists expect? They need to stop complaining and concede that their love affair with cars and light trucks has put us in this position.

If Kansas Citians want to get to work, shopping or the girls soccer game, they get in their vehicles and drive there. Whether the destination is two minutes or an hour away, local drivers have found that taking the car is the easiest way to whisk around the region.

However, streets, bridges and highways wear out. They need to be patched or repaved or sometimes replaced. That takes time and money.

So when that kind of work comes along, what should motorists do?

It seems that too many Kansas Citians think they can leave home at the same time and get to their downtown office tower in the same time. Or leave for the nighttime play 20 minutes before it is scheduled to start and be there for the opening curtain.

Guess again.

The Missouri Department of Transportation offers the sage advice of — surprise — leaving a little earlier to get to your destinations. Or taking alternate routes.

These are the kinds of sensible solutions that car-centric Kansas Citians ought to hear and heed.

It’s also good to hear that the state is trying to complete as many projects as possible in a short time frame. As officials point out, that means the pain of delays for motorists on the highways will not last as long.

By the way, many of the improvements that are snarling downtown are expected to be completed by this time next year. But don’t celebrate, especially if you live in southern Johnson County.

That’s where Kansas officials plan to start work soon on the $600 million Johnson County Gateway project that will disrupt traffic for several years during the expansion of I-35 and I-435.

Get your blood pressure medication now, Johnson Countians.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. He blogs at voices.kansascity.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah.

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