City Council members in Kansas City recently approved a $2.5 million agreement with the city of Gladstone for improvements to Pleasant Valley Road in the Northland, a project that has been in talks for years and one that is expected to improve safety and attract more residents to the area, city officials said.
Improvements will include realignment and widening of the street from two lanes to three lanes from North Indiana to North Brighton — one lane in each direction and a center turn lane. Construction will also include new bike lanes, a sidewalk on the north side, and a walking trail on the south side.
Council members said the project was long overdue for safety reasons, citing sharp curves and hills with little to no light on the road.
“It’s about as bad as it can get,” said City Councilwoman Teresa Loar. “It has been bad my whole lifetime in the Northland, which has been 50 years. You are kind of (putting) your life at risk if it gets icy or slick. It’s a death trap.”
The city of Gladstone will manage the project, which is slated to begin in late summer to early fall and last about two years.
The changes will open up eastbound and westbound traffic in the Northland, said Tim Nebergall, director of public works for the city of Gladstone, something that area of the city lacks, he said.
Nebergall, who is overseeing the project, said 60 streetlights would also be installed.
Council members have been discussing the changes for almost 10 years, said Councilwoman Heather Hall, who welcomed the partnership with the city of Gladstone.
“It’s really nice to see more than one municipality working together,” she said. “The citizens don’t know they’re going from one city to the next when they’re driving. They just want to know that the streets in their community are nice.”
The number of people in the Northland has increased dramatically in the past 10 to 20 years, said Deb Hermann, chief executive officer at Northland Neighborhoods. Adding amenities like sidewalks and trails help help attract more residents, she said.
“There are still families that live along there,” Hermann said, adding that children now stand in dirt as they wait for school buses along that road.
“People aren’t going to want to move to a neighborhood where there isn’t accommodation. People expect those amenities.”
Pleasant Valley Road, which runs east and west in the Northland, resembles “an old country road” and was built when there was little development in the area, said Councilman Scott Wagner.
“Those roads were never built to hold the level of cars they have now,” he said. “Expanding them will be safer for people going through there.”
Bike lanes also could prove to be a selling point for prospective buyers, said Councilman Dan Fowler, as more people become health-conscious and search for other modes of transportation.
“People see value in that type of infrastructure and they are willing to move into places with that kind of infrastructure.”