If you’ve lived in Lee’s Summit for any amount of time, you’ve experienced the wonder that is the 291/50 bridge just off Jefferson outside of downtown Lee’s Summit.
The potholes. Beating the first red light only to get caught at the second one. Playing chicken entering westbound 50 against traffic.
If you’ve longed for a better, safer, less aggravating experience as you travel south on Missouri 291 or enter 50 Highway, all your dreams are coming true.
You’ll just have to endure the pain of construction. But trust me, it will be worth it.
I spent many years driving to Harrisonville a few days a week, dreading the drive over every inch of that bridge coming and going. Nothing ever seemed to flow smoothly coming into that intersection.
Then, when, in the infinite wisdom of our federal government, they closed the downtown post office, that drive became almost a necessity for many of us.
I can only imagine what the drive in and out of church is like these days for our friends who attend Abundant Life. Truly a test of serenity and prayer, I bet.
And just be prepared – your patience and ability to speak to God may be put even further to the test as this $16 million project takes form. But that’s the price of progress. Progress sorely needed on this 40-year-old bridge.
MoDOT and the voters of Lee’s Summit – whom in 2014 approved the $10 million bond package that helped make this construction possible – should be applauded for the foresight and planning shown to make this happen. MoDOT agreed to additional funds and a plan was quickly put into place.
Regardless of what you think of diverging diamonds and temporary lane closures, this bridge construction, realignments and roundabout addition is a darn good thing for economic development in Lee’s Summit.
Developers must be thrilled to see this investment being made on a major gateway to Lee’s Summit and to our downtown. Projects like The Grove and the eventual redevelopment of Pine Tree Plaza will be two of the many benefactors of this investment.
What happens next? Here’s a timeline so you can be ready:
• The work on 291 will immediately include closures to the left lane during the day, both north and southbound for pavement work, ultimately to prepare for work on the outer road.
• Utilities are moving this month as well, according to MoDOT, but much of that work will happen overnight.
• Shoulder work on eastbound 50 starts this week as well, with much of that work planned overnight.
Later in May, some initial bridge work could start, although that is dependent on a number of factors. Be certain, though, that they will not start that major work until after Lee’s Summit schools are out on May 22.
As you can tell, the objective here is to have minimal impact on commuter traffic while maximizing construction time.
The temporary pain of construction, however, will give way to endless opportunities for development and investment in Lee’s Summit. For commuters and those who frequent the area, it will surely be a transition for the next 16 months or more until the late 2018 completion.
So be patient. Watch for workers. And for goodness sakes, put your phones down.
And if you need a prayer to get through the construction, there’s a church just down 291.