The most obvious question to ask about south Kansas City’s newly upgraded Longview Road is why it took more than four decades.
Officials cut the ribbon on the rebuilt road Friday, long after it was proposed in late 1960s, according to Sean Demory, spokesman for Kansas City Public Works.
Before construction began, City Council member John Sharp said, he would see people with wheelchairs sharing pavement with traffic, and pedestrians walking in the ditch.
Blame a shortage of money for the delay.
The initial plan was to generate the money through sales taxes collected at Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums, but that fell through. Cost overruns for the stadiums depleted the dollars devoted to Longview Road and other road projects, Sharp said.
The project then changed hands several times between Jackson County — where it originated — and the city before coming to rest with the city.
Before Sharp concluded his first council stint in 1991, he once more secured funding through a voter initiative, but that money was transferred to a State Line Road improvement.
“Which is an important project,” Sharp said, but “the Longview project had been promised to voters twice.”
Sharp lauded 6th District Councilman at-large Scott Taylor and former 6th District Councilwoman at-large Cathy Jolly for helping him renew the project.
Not only will the three-lane street accommodate the residents better, the improvement is making the area more attractive to developers, too.
Take the Save-A-Lot at Blue Ridge Boulevard and Longview Road, a store that Sharp said could never have been built without prior investments.
“They basically said, until you make some major investments, don’t call us, we’ll call you,” Sharp said.
The improvement project was done in two phases. The first — which includes four rain gardens, sidewalks on both sides of the street and bike lanes — covered a half-mile stretch between Hickman Mills and Applewood drives. It was was completed in 2010.
Friday marked the completion of the second phase. The city’s investment of more than $8 million extends those improvements to a 1.3-mile stretch between Blue Ridge Boulevard and Spring Valley Road.