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Independence Avenue improvements to focus on streets in effort to help pedestrians

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- One of the city's heaviest traveled pedestrian areas is on its way to getting a facelift, but they're not starting with the sidewalks where people walk.

Instead, the focus for Bobbi Baker-Hughes and the Independence Avenue Community Improvement District is the streets.

"Every day it gets busier. Every day there are more people on the Avenue. It’s really becoming more of a walkable community," Baker-Hughes said.

The CID is using grant money given to Kansas City to improve the five-mile long business corridor.

"Independence Avenue has one of the highest rates of pedestrians of any place in the city," Baker-Hughes said.

The CID had a meeting earlier in July, and soon the area will see wide lanes made narrow by better marked street parking. Plans also include the addition of concrete strips that become like safety islands for those crossing the street.

"They can get halfway across the Avenue to a safe zone and take a minute and check the traffic coming from the opposite direction," Baker-Hughes said.

People who live and walk nearby and business owners say the streets are the place to start.

Alex Huynh runs a grocery store.

"We have a lot of families that live around the neighborhood and they go shopping on foot," he said.

He said one-third of his business comes from people who walk in and out of his store.

Brian Cullen lives a block off Independence Avenue.

"I have seen what the city is trying to do and I’m encouraged by it. It’s going to be an improvement. It’s a good community," he said.

The speed limit on Independence Avenue is 35 MPH. The CID will host another planning meeting in August to seek public input.