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Some ramps would close in Missouri’s latest plan for I-70

Updated: 2014-01-18T02:09:18Z

By MATT CAMPBELL

The Kansas City Star

The Manchester Avenue interchange with Interstate 70 would stay but the ramps to and from Brooklyn Avenue would go under a plan for the highway released Friday by the Missouri Department of Transportation.

The plan represents the department’s latest and “preferred” reconfiguration of the aging and often congested artery between the Paseo and the Blue Ridge Cutoff. The goal is smoother, safer traffic flow.

The plan calls for gradually rebuilding or rehabilitating the 6.8 miles of highway, adding lanes in some places and lengthening some on and off ramps as well as eliminating others.

That would include removing the ramp from Brooklyn to westbound I-70 and the one from eastbound I-70 to Brooklyn.

Planners also would remove ramp connections from I-70 to Myrtle Avenue.

The plan envisions the possible acquisition of 31 residential properties and six businesses.

The total price is estimated at $227.3 million in 2013 dollars, but there is no indication that work will begin soon.

“There is currently no funding for design and construction,” area engineer Matt Killon said in a statement announcing the plan. “But completing this study is an important step in determining the future of I-70 and having the project ready to go should funding become available.”

I-70 in Kansas City was built more than 50 years ago and was designed to last 20 years. It carries far more traffic now than was anticipated — nearly 95,000 vehicles a day downtown and more than 113,000 a day near Kauffman Stadium.

An earlier iteration of the department’s plan last year suggested that many more access points to the highway could be closed to reduce the dense pattern of merging and weaving traffic. Possible ramp closures then included the ones at Benton Boulevard, Truman Road, 18th Street, 27th Street and Manchester Trafficway.

The department previously had sought to close the Manchester interchange because it was too near Interstate 435. But businesses in the area protested strongly and it appears state engineers have dropped the idea.

The latest version of the plan was produced after public input last year. It will be presented Tuesday to a transportation committee of the Mid-America Regional Council. A public hearing is scheduled for 4-7 p.m. Feb. 11 at Gregg-Klice Community Center, 17th Terrace and the Paseo.

Highlights of the latest version:

• At the Paseo: Lengthen ramps where possible; remove the ramp connection to 14th Street.

• At Prospect Avenue: Replace the interchange and lengthen ramps where possible; remove the connections to 14th Street; add an eastbound highway lane between Prospect and Truman Road.

• At Benton Boulevard and Truman Road: Consolidate the two westbound on ramps into one; build a new connector road from Truman to Benton.

• At Van Brunt Boulevard: Remove the westbound ramp connection to Raytown Road; add an eastbound and a westbound lane between Van Brunt and Jackson Avenue.

• At Interstate 435: Realign the southbound I-435 ramp to eastbound I-70 to eliminate the left lane exit; replace I-435 bridges over I-70.

• At 18th and 23rd streets: Add a westbound lane between the two; add an eastbound lane between 23rd and 27th streets.

• At Manchester: Add a westbound and an eastbound lane between Manchester and U.S. 40.

“We started with 12 alternative (plans) and with the public’s input and study team’s evaluation, we narrowed it down to one preferred alternative,” Killon said. “We’re now seeking additional input to ensure this is the best preferred improvement strategy for this section of I-70.”

To reach Matt Campbell, call 816-234-4902 or send email to mcampbell@kcstar.com.

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