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August 5, 2013

KC embarks on unprecedented street resurfacing program

Kansas City Mayor Sly James thanked voters Monday for approving tax changes a year ago that are now allowing the city to resurface many more miles of streets than in the past.

Kansas City has embarked on an unprecedented street resurfacing program, thanks to last year’s vote for more money for infrastructure.

The city expects to spend about $19 million this fiscal year to resurface about 220 lane miles of roads, Mayor Sly James said Monday at a news conference. In the prior year, the city spent only about $3 million and resurfaced only about 30 lane miles.

The additional work is possible because voters in August 2012 approved a 1/2-cent sales tax increase for parks. That freed up millions more dollars for streets, which residents constantly cite as one of the city’s biggest needs.

“Kansas Citians said in one voice this is a priority and we’re willing to pay for it,” James said, thanking voters for the additional tax money. He said he wanted the public to know how that money is now being spent.

James stood on a newly repaved street at the northern fringe of the city, North Oak Trafficway and 109th Street, to highlight that all parts of the city should be getting some attention.

“We care about every single area of this city,” James said, pointing to a map illustrating the targeted streets. Public works officials said the city ranks streets based on need and levels of deterioration. The map is available at kansascity.com., and resurfacing efforts can be followed online at

www.kcmo.org/resurface

.

City Manager Troy Schulte said he could recall one time years ago when the city spent as much as $16 million on street resurfacing. But he said that level of investment didn’t last.

“We’re hoping to sustain this over and over again and thereby make some real progress in this effort,” James said.

In fact, the city promised voters last year to spend at least 7.5 percent of the earnings tax, or at least $15 million, per year on street repaving. Public works managers have said for years that the city should be spending far more than that, if it wants to adequately maintain its inventory of more than 6,500 lane miles of roads.

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