April vote likely on bond issue for Lee’s Summit interchange

The Lee’s Summit City Council has agreed to ask voters next spring to approve a $10 million bond issue to help reconstruct the interchange at U.S. 50 and Missouri 291 South.

The council voted this month to draft an ordinance calling for the April election, but will need a final vote to approve it.

The Missouri Department of Transportation plans to replace the Jefferson Street bridge over U.S. 50 in the next five years for safety reasons, said Matt Killion, area engineer with the agency. Because of budget constraints, it does not plan to make the bridge wider or do other work to ease congestion.

Killion said MoDOT would be interested in sharing costs with Lee’s Summit for a more extensive makeover, but the agency won’t fully commit to cost sharing until it considers other projects in a statewide, competitive process.

State money could cover 40 to 50 percent of the Lee’s Summit project, which MoDOT now thinks will cost $16.1 million. A preliminary estimate was $10 million.

That left council members facing whether to ask voters for enough to fully fund the interchange, in case the project isn’t accepted by MoDOT, or only ask for the city share.

“Do we really want to put a $16 million bond issue before voters?” Holland said. “I’m a little reluctant to do that.”

Holland said he could accept $8 million or $10 million.

Council member Ed Cockrell said the city should ask for $10 million, enough to cover its possible share and to allow for unknowns.

MoDOT is to announce its decision on the cost sharing by March 14. If the project fails to get the matching money, the city can pull the plug, he said.

“I could tell voters to turn it down, it’s over,” Cockrell said.

His view prevailed on a 5-2 vote, with Bob Johnson and David Mosby voting no.

Killion told the council the agency has three possible configurations for the new interchange and each costs about $16 million.

He said he wasn’t able to explain the large difference from earlier estimates, other than some design factors had been left out of preliminary estimate.

“We’re very confident with the new one,” he said.