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Businesses, residents weigh in on 50th anniversary of Kansas City downtown loop

Downtown loop
Posted at 6:21 PM, Oct 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-26 22:13:39-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On the 50th anniversary of Kansas City's downtown loop, residents and business owners have mixed reactions to the highway.

The highway has brought people into the heart of Kansas City for decades. During the past several years, Spokes Cafe and Cyclery has served some of those people.

“We’re right on one of the exits on 14th Street," said Dan Walsh, managing partner at Spokes Cafe and Cyclery. "So, people come directly to us that then spill into downtown. So, for us, we’re on a thoroughfare that would have never been here if it wasn’t for the project."

The loop was completed on October 26, 1972. On Twitter, the Missouri Department of Transportation posted several construction photos of various phases of the loop which took almost 20 years to complete.

“If you look at what this area looked like before the freeway tore through it, all these neighborhoods seamlessly interconnected to each other," Matt Staub said. "It created a dynamic streets and really livable places. Now we have this huge expanse of multiple blocks of distance between each of our neighborhoods."

Staub is with the River Market Community Association, a group that represents business owners and residents in a neighborhood where the downtown loop was built.

“Traffic patterns have changed," said Matt Killion, assistant district engineer with MoDOT. "Traffic has increased in the 50-years since it opened, so certainly things would change if we were to design it today, but in general it works."

Killion added future projects like the Buck O'Neil bridge replacement are focused on solutions to accessibility that Staub has concerns about.

“We’re providing a pedestrian crossing across the Missouri River which is something we don’t have in place on the current structure," he said. "So that’s big. That’s a game changer in that area.” 

Staub hopes it's a sign future development doesn't forget communities needs.

"Finally, we’re coming back and now rethinking what it the purpose of this infrastructure and what we want to do next," he said.