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Old 04-27-2017, 02:46 PM
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,504,291 times
Reputation: 5415


I know few people will read this and maybe I will make a graphic highlighting these ideas. Once in a while, my urban planning side comes out and I have to play SimCity with KC. KC could do this. All it takes is some leadership and residents willing to get behind such ideas. But anyway. Here goes:

Could KC’s complete lack of urban recreation infrastructure be finally getting some attention? These ideas are years out from being implemented, but if KC planners and leaders get their act together and take advantage of some upcoming opportunities, KCMO may be able to put a serious dent in what is currently one of city’s biggest downfalls or maybe even set new bar. While KC’s downtown has probably seen one of the biggest revivals in the country, I honestly cannot think of another city that is further behind when it comes to urban recreation. From NYC to LA, Seattle to Orlando, Des Moines to Tulsa, Denver to Columbus. Every mid to major sized city has built up some sort of urban recreation infrastructure. Miles of dedicated on street and off street bike likes that actually go places, riverfront levee trails, river front parks, massive pedestrian bridges with both new and repurposed bridges, cities are decking freeways with parks and other pedestrian friendly development. Nearly every city now has a very active urban recreational scene that attracts as many people form the suburbs as it does from city dwellers.

Except Kansas City.

I know there have been a few small projects in KC. 20th Street for example. They are trying to do something with Grand Blvd through Downtown. There are chucks of trail along the river etc. But KC really doesn’t have much and what it does have is so disconnected and in such small sections that it’s nearly useless and barely used. This is ridiculous since Downtown KC is at the confluence of two major rivers and has a wonderful central urban park (that is terribly underutilized) along with what’s left of the Boulevards system in and around downtown.

If people spent one day in DC or Portland or Minneapolis or even Forest Park in St Louis, they would see what KC is missing.

I was recently in Memphis and Louisville, both have opened brand new pedestrian bridges over their rivers near their downtowns using old RR Bridges similar to what Little Rock did a while back. Cincinnati and Nashville and Denver have also done this. Omaha and many others have built new structures. Every time I’m in one of these cities, I use this infrastructure and you would not believe how much of a regional draw they are for their respective metro areas.

I have beat this horse till it’s dead many times over and have generally given up because KC has not even had anything master planned. If you don’t even have a goal to do this stuff, then that means it’s so far out that it’s not even worth beating the horse anymore.

However, that could change in a hurry if KC leaders play their cards right. Or KC may drop this ball and KC may go on for decades with what it has now.

Here is why I’m excited and why KC has a chance over the next five years to build up a first class urban recreational infrastructure system.

The Broadway Bridge is on a fast track to be either repaired or replaced. The city and state need to find the money to replace it or rebuild it to include pedestrian crossings.

The city wants to do something with the north loop.

Development is occurring in and around Berkley Riverfront Park.

Cordish is moving fast with developing their towers along I-670 which could and should lead to the capping of I-670.

Rumors are that the railroads are looking to replace the Hannibal Bridge with a new bridge as part of the Broadway Bridge project to straighten out their track in the area opening up a HUGE opportunity to use that bridge as a dedicated pedestrian bridge.

The streetcar is in place and wildly popular.

Thousands of people are living downtown. The population will soon surpass 30,000. That is about how where Denver was when they really started to ramp up their infrastructure. Although they still had more to start with than KC does, KC has a lot more park space and riverfront to work with than Denver did.

The streetcar proves that suburban people are looking for reasons to go downtown. People in KC literally take the family downtown to ride the streetcar. I personally find that somewhat bizarre, but at the same time, it shows that metro KC residents are desperate to experience and enjoy the urban part of the city no matter where they live.

So is it possible? This is how I see it if everything goes well:

In ten years, the streetcar may pass through thousands of new apartments in Berkley Park and then cross the ASB bridge or on a new structure to a brand new mixed use development in the Harlem area and then on to downtown NKC. Of course it will also go by Penn Valley Park, Mill Creek park and Brush Creek riverwalk tying those areas together and connecting to the Trolley Track trail along with a dedicated bike lane to Loose Park.

The Hannibal bridge could be a pedestrian bridge linking levee trails on both sides of the river with another pedestrian bridge to the east on the new streetcar bridge / ASB bridge to create a loop similar to what you see in many downtowns on rivers. Visit Little Rock or Tulsa or Columbus or Portland or Cincy or Des Moines where they have not just one bridge but several pedestrian bridges crossing rivers downtown.

Speaking of levee trails, the river trail on the south side of the MO river would be one complete well marked trail from the casino to Kaw Point at which it could cross the Kansas river using the existing trail under the Lewis and Clark Viaduct that nobody knows about. From there the trail would continue around the Fairfax district where it would cross the river on the new 69 bridge to eventually connect all the way to English Landing Park in Parkville where it would connect to a fast growing network of Platte County trails. Someday you will be able to ride a bike on a dedicated trail from Tiffany Springs to Longview Lake and then on to the KATY Trail. The riverfront trail would be directly connected to Penn Valley Park via Case Park and a new trail running through the West Side.

The north loop would become a parkway and all interstates would be routed along the east and south sides of the downtown loop. One of the Lewis and Clark bridges could become a dedicated streetcar pedestrian bridge connecting downtown KCMO to downtown KCK and Kaw Point while the other bridge would maintain local car and truck access to Fairfax.

The West loop goes on a huge road diet. Make it a small connection from the new Broadway Bridge to I-35 and that's it. Reduce it to one lane each way and use the rest of the land along those bluffs for park and trails system to help connect the riverfront to the West Side and Penn Valley Park.

The south loop would be decked with parkland and fountains, a dog park etc.

Washington Park would be totally rebuilt into a destination urban park similar to Millennium Park in Chicago creating a true central gathering place for the Crossroads and Crown Center area.

Penn Valley Park would see some major changes. Not only would it be connected to other trails and served by the streetcar, the park itself is currently cut in half by high speed and very pedestrian unfriendly Broadway. It’s insane that Penn Valley Park is split in two with no way to cross Broadway. A signature pedestrian bridge over Broadway (would have awesome views of downtown) needs to be built basically connecting the two halves of the park and making some of KC’s more popular landmarks (The KC Scout, The Pioneer Mother Memorial, Liberty Memorial and the Firefighters Memorial) more accessible and creating one large park. Also, while it may seem cheesy, adding large ferris wheel to PVP makes a lot of sense. Many cities have them now and it would add an attraction to the park while giving visitors awesome views of the entire city, including the Liberty Memorial and Crown Center. It could be placed near the Pioneer Mother Memorial.

So for those of you that did read my little novel here. Any ideas or thoughts?

Last edited by kcmo; 04-27-2017 at 03:43 PM..
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Old 04-27-2017, 03:27 PM
1,298 posts, read 984,056 times
Reputation: 658
I read the whole thing. Please move back to Kansas City and run for mayor ;-)
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Old 04-28-2017, 04:34 PM
376 posts, read 429,838 times
Reputation: 350
Originally Posted by rwiksell View Post
I read the whole thing. Please move back to Kansas City and run for mayor ;-)
Seconded! Love your ideas.
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Old 05-01-2017, 01:43 PM
Location: Washington, DC area
10,705 posts, read 18,504,291 times
Reputation: 5415
Thanks guys, but no, I don't think so. I think Mayor James is a great mayor, but he really struggles in a city where most people (voters anyway) are just not on the same page. James would have done a LOT more during his tenure if the city culture was not the way it is. You are talking about the same city that elected Funkhouser right after Barnes helped KCMO turn a corner from crap to a place people actually wanted to be and literally lost four years of development and progress by doing so.
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Old 05-01-2017, 07:22 PM
132 posts, read 109,686 times
Reputation: 113
The money could be better spent than capping the freeways and building parks. Streetcar extensions and new class A office space would go a long way.

I firmly believe that there are alot of firms that won't consider downtown simply because the towers are old and dated. Nobody wants to pay Class A+ rates for a 40 year old building.

I Really really hope Copaken goes all out on the 13th/grand space. The city needs a mini Shard or St. Mary's axe that companies can hang their hat on. Not another square box labeled "class A".


We have companies in the metro that would value space like this:

US Bank
Country Club Bank
Waddell & Reed
American Century?
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Old 05-02-2017, 11:50 AM
112 posts, read 61,926 times
Reputation: 90
There is a committee on the Downtown Council called Tactical Urbanism. It's mission is to create areas and attractions in downtown that enhance it's appeal and its recreational options. If any of you are interested in getting involved, that would be a good place to start.
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Old 05-02-2017, 09:43 PM
Location: First Hill, Seattle
5,469 posts, read 5,779,094 times
Reputation: 7186
Great post kcmo! I would love to see all of those things happen in KC. Seeing some type of ped bridge connecting DT with the Northland would be phenomenal. I always used to see so many cyclists on that service road parallel to the downtown airport, but they can only go so far before having to turn back. I really think the demand is there and it would get a lot of usage.

I also love the idea about the ped bridge at Penn Valley Park. It's such an underutilized area, in no small part because of how it's set up.

I agree, you need to run for mayor.
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Old 05-09-2017, 06:21 AM
376 posts, read 429,838 times
Reputation: 350
Green space in the Crossroads. A bridge connecting Penn Valley Park's halves. A trail system connecting downtown, midtown and the Plaza. A highway cap. The UMKC streetcar extension. Infrastructure and streetscape investment in the Troost-Prospect corridor. And a KC version of London's "Gherkin" (we could honor our local cuisine and build a series of arcing, curving towers and call them the Spare Ribs). Oh, and a new airport. For the love of God, a new airport.

Everyone of them is necessary to move the city forward, IMNRHO.
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Old 05-09-2017, 09:25 AM
Location: Alamogordo, NM
5,498 posts, read 5,160,767 times
Reputation: 3267
A trail system connecting downtown, midtown and the Plaza.

This would be great!
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