KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Bridging the gap for kids and families in Kansas City is the goal behind a possible new bridge that will allow a safe way to access the 15 and the Mahomies playground at Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
“It makes me feel good so that way other kids can come and enjoy the park,” said Dalice Starr, a 7th grader who enjoys coming to the playground.
More kids like Starr might soon be able to safely crossover to the 15 and the Mahomies playground after Rep. Emanuel Cleaver secured funding to build the MLK Park pedestrian bridge at Brush Creek.
“We were able to get $2.8 million for a pedestrian bridge that will go over Brush Creek and connect the north side of Brush Creek to the south side of Brush Creek so kids will be able to come to the park without getting hit by cars,” Cleaver said.
The funding for this bridge comes after Cleaver voted to support House Resolution 4502, a package of bills that includes $14.4 million in funding for multiple projects across Missouri’s 5th Congressional District.
Cleaver says the playground is a great addition to the community, but the busy streets nearby are not safe to cross, leaving many without access to the park.
“On the north side of the bridge, there are apartments, and there are a lot of young children who live in those apartments, and for them to get to the park, there is no way they can get there easily unless they cross Brush Creek at Paseo or across Brush Creek, both of those are very [dangerous] thoroughfares in our city,” Cleaver said.
However, families who live in the area tell KSHB 41 News they are glad to see safety for children becoming a priority.
“I haven’t always had a vehicle — I’ve had to walk up and down these streets. I just couldn’t imagine having to walk my children up and down these dangerous roads. I mean, you hear stories of children getting hit all the time,” said Krystal Rodriguez, Kansas City resident.
In addition, parents KSHB 41 News spoke to at the park say they see this bridge as a symbolic way to unify the community.
“It’s a huge symbolism in unifying the city and allowing kids a safe way to come over to this spectacular park. I think it’s a perfect tribute to Dr.King,” said Dan Nelson, park-goer.
Parents are hopeful this bridge is not only a possibility but a reality.
“I think it would be a blessing to the community — the children, the families that live across the way over there for them to be able to come and play and bring their kids to the park,” said Zahra Elwell, park-goer.
At this time, HR 4502, which includes the funding, has to pass through the Senate and make its way to the President's desk for a signature. But Cleaver says he expects the money will be available by the first of the year.