17th Street underpass remains in dark after seven years

Community says it's a public safety concern

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Residents and business owners in Kansas City's Westside neighborhood are upset that lights have not been installed at the 17th Street and I-35 underpass after seven years.

The underpass four blocks away from the Kauffman Center is adorned with murals that match the artistic atmosphere of the neighborhood. But at night it becomes pitch black and is a public safety concern for those who live and work in the area.

"It's very unsettling for someone from a different community to come out here and try to walk a long stretch of darkness to their performing arts center" Managing Partern for Westside Local Brandon Strick said.

For him and the others who have tried to change the lighting condition of the underpass, it's been a frustrating seven years.

It started in 2007 when the city received a request to install lighting for the underpass. Two years later, in 2009, more than $50,000 were approved for the project. Another two years passed and in 2011, the money was used to conduct a study on what type of lights should be installed.

The firm, El Dorado Inc., was brought in and they gave their recommendations to the city that were based on LED lights. However, the city ran into a problem.

"The original lighting provider went out of business and thus we had no lights to put in place so we had to re-spec the project from there," Sean Demory, spokesperson with Kansas City Public Works, said.

Last year, the city council once again allocated money for the installation of lights.

When 41 Action News contacted the city Tuesday for a status update, the city said installation is expected to start next month and should be completed by April.

"We're very excited because April is the start of the walkable season and that would make a big difference to us," Strick said.

The city will be installing wallpacks which are your traditional, non-LED lights that are seen in tunnels and underpasses.

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