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KCMO pursuing federal grant to study safety on U.S. Highway 71

71 Highway at 59th Street
Posted at 4:53 PM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 23:06:38-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas says the city is working on applying for a federal grant to study safety improvements along U.S. Highway 71 and the Prospect Avenue corridor.

“We should not be seeing people die unnecessarily," Lucas said. "A lot of these intersections are the most dangerous intersections in Kansas City, Missouri, year after year and have been that way since 71 Highway opened decades ago.”

Lucas says the federal grant of $5 million could explore possible solutions such as better walkways, removal of traffic lights in certain areas and the construction of overpasses.

“We recognize there’s a lot of infrastructure money, so we hope that if we get the money for the study that it’s not particularly a long process, more of one year to 18 months," he said. "We’re looking at what a design looks like that could get us worked up to the level where we can actually apply for the infrastructure funds that are available thereafter."

Longtime residents in the area believe such research is overdue.

“It’s about time. I hope they do because it should be overpasses here. I don’t think they should’ve stopped it right there. I never thought that was a good idea," said Melinda Gilbert, who lives near 71 Highway and thinks the road is poorly constructed.

Gilbert says she has seen negative consequences connected to the road's design including “a lot of accidents, a lot of deaths, a lot of people I've known have been hurt and had accidents here.”

KSHB 41 News obtained traffic data from the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department.

According to police documents, 10 intersections are considered high crash locations in the city with three along 71 Highway: 55th Street, 75th Street and Red Bridge Road.

The data cites rear-end and inattention as the leading cause for crashes and shows an increase in tickets issued in February 2022 compared to January 2022.

  • 55th Street and Bruce R. Watkins Drive
    • January: 12 tickets
    • February: 40 tickets
  • 75th Street and Bruce R. Watkins Drive
    • January: 13 tickets
    • February: 24 tickets
  • Red Bridge Road and 71 Highway
    • January: 20 tickets
    • February: 111 tickets

Pedestrian and bicyclist safety is an issue Michael Kelley focuses on through BikeWalkKC.

“It’s very regular that you would see people with their heads on a swivel if you are trying to walk across or bike across because people are going so fast, and it just does not create a safe built-in environment for people who are walking or biking,” Kelley said.

He knows the concern firsthand from commuting past 71 Highway.

“It’s very unnerving," Kelley said. "I consider myself pretty confident in most spaces, but I mean crossing on Meyer, you are very, very concerned because cars are always going fast."

Lucas says the city plans to submit an application by mid-April.