Kansas City begins design process for South Loop Link project
Kansas City leaders say it’s finally time to build a park atop Interstate 670 in the heart of downtown.
Local and federal officials gathered Friday to announce official plans for a $160 million bridge over the downtown South Loop. Few funding details were provided, but officials said a $5 million donation from the Loews Hotel Kansas City will initiate design and planning efforts.
This phase is expected to take between 12 and 18 months, according to a press release from the city.
“We’re investing in downtown not just for today, but for tomorrow,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said Friday. “We want a space where people feel comfortable to live, work and play. Our investment today helps mean it all.
Downtown Boosters have been considering building a park on the freeway for years. In addition to bringing new green space to the city core, the bridge would reduce noise from interstate traffic below. But unprecedented amounts of federal infrastructure funding now available have brought the idea closer to a reality than ever before.
Plans call for the construction of a 5.5-acre park on the highway, from Wyandotte Street to Grand Boulevard, connecting downtown to the crossroads. City leaders say it would also add green infrastructure and help reduce the freeway’s environmental impacts. Additionally, it could improve access to multimodal transport and provide an iconic gathering space in the heart of the city.
U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver told The Star on Friday he was optimistic the project could secure the federal funding needed to make it happen. He said Kansas City is well positioned to capitalize on funds allocated to infrastructure and sustainability efforts.
“I think when you look at this project, it also demonstrates the level of partnership,” said Cleaver, a Democrat from Kansas City.
City Manager Brian Platt said he doesn’t know how much Kansas City would need to invest in the project — in fact, the total cost isn’t yet known. But he said the city was buoyed by support from federal, state and local stakeholders. Platt said the city asked for $25 million RAISE grant from the United States Department of Transportation.
The city will also seek federal US Rescue Plan Act funding and is also expecting private contributions.
No funding other than Loews’ $5 million donation has yet been secured. Platt said city leaders plan to run the project one block at a time, starting with the section near the hotel and then moving east.
“Smart infrastructure investments like this will improve quality of life and give families and businesses more reason to make a long-term commitment to the region,” said U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican from Missouri. , in a press release.
As for the name of the park, Lucas suggested Roy Blunt Park for the longtime senator, who is not seeking reelection.
the downtown council has been pushing the idea of an interstate cap in recent years, including it as a key goal in its 10-year plan for the region.
“This is an opportunity to physically unite the Central Business District and Crossroads Arts District with a destination park featuring an open green lawn, public art and outdoor seating with shaded structures,” said said Bill Dietrich, president and CEO of the Downtown Council. “This is a game changer located in the heart of downtown KC.”
The cost could change throughout the process, although the Downtown Council estimates it could boost property values in the area by at least $90 million and have an economic impact of $490 million.
The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce brought more than 100 elected officials, civic and business leaders to Dallas in 2016 to see that city’s Klyde Warren Park. It is a 2 hectare urban oasis built on the Warren Rodgers Freeway and connecting the Uptown and Downtown neighborhoods of Dallas. Officials estimate the deck generated nearly $3 billion in economic impact.
“We expect the new South Loop Link to bring similar benefits to downtown and KC’s Crossroads neighborhood,” said Courtney Lewis, content director for the local chamber.