LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. - MoDOT proposes a strategy to improve I-70 in the Kansas City metropolitan area by fixing bottlenecks from downtown to I-470, and possibly adding lanes between I-435 and I-470.
That's if funds are available to improve the half-century-old interstate corridor. The full study, called the First Tier Environmental Impact Statement (FTEIS), includes all of I-70 from the Kansas state line to just east of I-470, including all of the Downtown Loop. The study is available for public review beginning Friday, Jan. 14, both online at www.modot.org/kansascity/metroi70 and at these locations:
•· MoDOT offices, 600 NE Colbern Road, Lee's Summit
•· Kansas City Public Library - Central Branch, 14 West 10th Street, Kansas City
•· Mid-Continent Library - South Independence Branch, 13700 E. 35th Street South, Independence
•· Mid-America Regional Council, 600 Broadway, Kansas City
In addition, MoDOT invites the public to offer comments at an on-line public meeting at www.modot.org/kansascity/metroi70
The portion of I-70 included in the study was built during the 1960s, designed for anticipated traffic through 20 years. Ongoing maintenance and some improvements have extended the life of the highway far beyond its design lifespan, but sections now need redesign and reconstruction soon. The FTEIS helps determine the best strategy for improvement so that future capacity is maximized.
The study considers:
•· Improved safety - crash reduction and severity
•· Reduced congestion - removing key bottlenecks, minimize ramps backing up traffic onto the freeway, and improving multi-modal travel times to best use the pavement and bridges
•· Restoring and maintaining existing infrastructure - fixing bridges and pavement cost-effectively
•· Better access - providing travel options for all residents, increasing safe access across the freeway for non-motorized travel, and supporting local and regional land use plans
•· Moving freight - improving the efficiency of trucks and delivery vans on the freeway
The preferred strategy proposed in the study improves key bottlenecks in the downtown loop to east of I-470. These recommendations reduce peak-hour congestion, will require less additional property and result in less relocation of homes and businesses, affect people and the environment less, cost less than strategies that would build more pavement and bridges, and improves access to the freeway and transit service efficiency. It also restores or rebuilds existing infrastructure.
From east of I-435 to I-470, adding lanes also should be further considered in the Second Tier Environmental Impact Study. Leaving the option open for more lanes in this segment is based on uncertainty of:
•· The rate traffic will increase and how rising fuel prices may affect future traffic volume
•· The impact of long-range transportation planning and future development
•· Regional transit alternatives
•· Potential federal climate change and vehicle emission laws
During the past year, MoDOT received public comments to the draft FTEIS that related to:
•· Improving safety
•· Problems with access ramps
•· Impacts to the natural environment (air quality, affect on water and wetlands)
•· Adding lanes
•· Right-of-way impacts to homes
•· Funding of improvements
•· Transportation alternatives (commuter rail, transit, etc.)
Following the comment period, which ends Feb. 18, MoDOT will respond to the comments and complete a Record of Decision for review by MoDOT planners and Federal Highway Administration officials. Once that has been approved by the Federal Highway Administration, MoDOT planners may proceed with more detailed examination of strategies in the Second Tier Environmental Impact Study.