The road is coming, and mostly complete. It is just not visible yet.
Liberty is getting a new east-west corridor between Interstate 35 and Missouri 291 that is expected to ease congestion on heavily traveled Kansas Avenue.
It is a project over 50 years in the making, something city leaders first envisioned in 1965.
The 2.5 mile project, funded through an economic development tax passed in November 2014, will complete the road. The first section, from I-35 in Pleasant Valley to Withers Road, has been in use since 2005.
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Liberty City Council approved the final right-of-way agreements required to finish the road at its May 29 meeting. That final step puts the long-anticipated South Liberty Parkway on a path to become drivable in just a few months.
Andy Noll, public works director for the City of Liberty, said getting right-of-way agreements from the railroad authority to allow the city to build a bridge over a double rail line along the route was a long process. It extended their hoped-for fall 2017 completion date by a year.
“It took a while. There’s no doubt about it. It’s longer than what we had hoped for, but it’s not unheard of in the construction world,” Noll said.
Agreements needed to get 3,000 feet of a petroleum pipeline moved out of the way of the new road also delayed construction. However, those agreements are also complete, and the company moving the pipeline is on the project now and should be done by the beginning of July.
“It will be out of the way of the roadway and will be deep enough and out of the way of future development,” Noll said.
Despite the two major delays, the construction company working on the $23.75 million project has been moving forward. The new intersection of the road at Missouri 291 is already visible, but the rest of the road is hidden behind a hill until the completion of the pipeline work.
“What you can’t see on the other side of that hill is that the contractor has already been placing asphalt. They have gotten a lot of the work done. Just a lot of it no one can see, because you cannot get close to it unless you are on the project itself,” Noll said.
A considerable amount of the road and a second bridge that flies over a creek and a third rail line are nearly complete. With the final agreements in place, and a clear construction season, the road should be ready for drivers by the end of September.
The completion of this east/west throughway will come just months before a major project set to start on the other major east/west connector in Liberty: Kansas Avenue. Kansas Avenue is the Liberty portion of Missouri 152 between I-35 and Missouri 291.
The highly congested stretch of road is scheduled for lane additions, turn-lane improvements and a new bridge over I-35. That construction project is expected to last at least a year, starting in spring 2019 and finishing in spring 2020.
The Missouri 152/Kansas Avenue project is a partnership project. Kansas City, federal transportation grant money, the Missouri Department of Transportation and the City of Liberty are funding part of the $24 million cost.
The South Liberty Drive connector will be especially important during summer 2019, when the bridge on Missouri 152 over I-35 will be completely out for what is expected to be about four months.