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Kansas City voters to consider $800M bond resolution, with $150M earmarked for new sidewalks

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Eight-hundred million dollars is a huge chunk of cash.

That's the amount of money the Kansas City Council will ask voters to approve, most of which will go toward upgrades in bridges, roads and sidewalks. On Thursday, all 14 council members passed the bond resolution unanimously, but not without some negotiation.

Kansas City voters will go to the polls in April, when they'll rule on a 20-year plan that will ask them for $800M, $450M of which will go toward improving basic infrastructure in public street. However, the bond resolution also asks for $150M earmarked for new sidewalks, a provision that nearly caused this plan to fail.

The paths Kansas Citians are asked to walk aren't what they used to be. It's visible in the large cracks and broken pieces seen in many sidewalks, both in business and residential districts. Some sidewalks have large breaks in the pavement, while others have uneven surfaces sitting on noticeable slopes that don't meet ADA requirements.

Tiffany Moore, who resides in the Brookside area, says she's been asking for answers on this issue since 2011. During Thursday morning's committee meeting, Moore encouraged council members not to cut more infrastructure money than the 14 council members already have.

"It is a dealbreaker," Moore stated. "We compromised from 300 (million dollars) to 200 to 150. It seems like this is the most important piece of the puzzle for the constituents who will vote on it."

"There's always been need," Quenton Lucas, who represents Kansas City's third district, said.

Lucas is at the heart of the infrastructure bond, and helped push it through council on the final day that would place the notion on April's electoral ballot.

"Almost a billion dollars is a big ask," Lucas said. "Getting it all done in a day isn't how we want to do it. I think we have some work to do with the voters over the next few months in making it clearer why this is necessary."

Kansas City Mayor Sly James supports the $800M bond, but warns that prioritizing new sidewalks and roads in selected neighborhoods, rather than using a universal plan that serves the entire city, will create problems.

"We need to always look at this city as one city," Mayor James said.

"We can't have sidewalks you can't navigate in a wheelchair or on crutches or kids running down the street, or elderly people walking and tripping and hurting themselves. We have to address that issue."

The $800M plan also allocates money for a new animal shelter and updates the the Kansas City Museum. Voters will cast their ballots this coming April.