$160M green-space plan above I-670 gets another $30M, still several years away

Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 5:59 AM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Millions of state dollars are being used toward a new look above I-670 in downtown Kansas City, but it will be several years and many millions of dollars before the green-space project is complete.

Millions more from the feds, state, and public-private entities are still needed to get the South Loop Link project up and running.

“The level of work that goes into a project – this is not just a park, right? It is a significant transformation of a whole section of downtown by bridging and decking this interstate highway,” said Port KC President and CEO Jon Stephens.

United States Senator Roy Blunt announced that nearly $30 million through the Government Funding Bill is being used toward the project, but the total cost is $160 million.

Downtown trekkers can get across the highway system by walking through several intersections, but several city entities working together want it streamlined. The collective partnership team is comprised of the city, the Downtown Council, and Port KC. They want the area to be acres of green space people can enjoy and travel on to get through the city by creating 5.5 acres of green space over four blocks, with a goal for all or at least a segment completed by 2026.

“At this point, looking at where we are, with the team that we assembled – I, personally, am optimistic that in 2026 you will see a South Loop Link project live and open for the public,” said Stephens.

Port KC President and CEO Jon Stephens said they are in the works to get a portion of that $160 million total with $18 million in private commitments from the downtown stakeholders and an additional 10s of million through federal grants---goals that he said are in their grasp. He said environmental studies can have those dollars approved when that plan is presented at a later date down the road.

Stephens said it’s not just a park project---This is going to take some time to get it right and ready for thousands to take advantage of downtown.

“We have environmental, and the studies, and the work of the engineers at work today. Moving forward on the project and with U.S. Sen. Blunt coming through with the $28.6 million---that’s really been proof positive that this is the right project for the city at the right time,” Stephens said.

The public could see a preliminary design completed in the fall of this year, but there are still plenty of community engagement events and more studies needed before this is completed.

Mayor Quinton Lucas, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo), City Manager Brian Platt, and Blunt (R-Mo.) said the goal is to make the area a centerpiece for jobs, culture, art, and green park space.

Construction isn’t expected to begin until next year at the earliest if the design being worked on right now by environmental groups through community engagement is approved.

Stephens said this is correcting something done to the city that needs fixing for the community.

“Obviously, highways are important to get people around the community, but the old way of putting highways right through the middle of our downtowns is over, and we need to fix that,” he said. “And we need to do it in a way that is beneficial for all corners of our community, and the I-670 South Loop Link is the way to do that.”

Platt said he plans to use the design as a framework for other places downtown that could change to something like what we’ll see here when they announced in April.