North Woodland expansion project looks to boost safety for drivers

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Northland residents are one step closer to getting a dangerous stretch of road made a bit safer. A proposed construction project will expand Woodland Ave from two lanes to four.

The intersection of 102nd Street and North Woodland Avenue has been the site of numerous crashes, according to neighbors.

The new lanes will actually be the completion of a previous project. What was once a simple two-lane road is now a divided roadway, with two lanes going each way and a median between them. This stretch of road is known as Maplewoods Parkway.

Where Maplewoods runs into North Woodland Avenue, the road is still united, one lane going each way. The project will split those two lanes, making drivers safer.

roadmap

"Unfortunately, because of the price tag, we're just not able to do it, but what we're really trying to do is get in a good position that when the funding opportunity comes, we can get on top of it and be ready to move on the project," Kansas City councilman Scott Wagner said.

Wagner said after years of planning, the group wanting to expand the road is ready to vie for federal money to complete the project. It's what he calls "shovel ready."

The planning has been done, the land has been acquired, and $5.2 million of the projected $13 million has been raised to improve what he calls "an old country road."

"By the time you throw the volume of cars on top of an aging street that was never meant to carry that many cars, you have the recipe for something dangerous," Wagner explained.

Ashley Sykora lost her father, 45-year-old George Sykora, in April 2014 when his vehicle was hit head-on by a drunk driver on North Woodland.

"And I just feel like he didn't even have a chance," Ashley told FOX 4 shortly after the accident. The family believes if Woodland had been widened, that could have saved his life.

"He couldn't have seen what was coming over the hill," Ashley said. "He couldn't have gotten out of the way any more than he already did."

It's a call to action the Sykora family made a year ago, and many who live in the area continue to make.

The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) will get over $50 million of federal money for local projects. The organization will decide if the North Woodland expansion project will receive a portion.

"If we do not succeed, it's not for lack of trying and it's not for lack of doing everything that we could do," Wagner said.

MARC will make its decision in late summer or early fall. If they grant that $8 million to the project, it will still be another year and a half before its completion.

MARC is accepting public comments until May 20, so you can find avenues to voice your opinion here.