First Friday attendees expected to be pleasantly surprised with new upgrades in Crossroads neighborhood

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Crowds gathering in the Crossroads neighborhood for November's First Friday may be pleasantly surprised to find wider sidewalks and other upgrades, designed to make it easier for the neighborhood to accommodate more people.

The city has spent nearly $3.8-million to make the Crossroads friendlier for cyclists, drivers and walkers.

"People will discover there’s more room to maneuver there, whether you are on foot, traveling the area frequently for work or you are going down for First Fridays," said Beth Breitenstein of the city's public works department.

Improvements on 20th Street between Grand Avenue and Southwest Boulevard include: much wider sidewalks with new crosswalks that are accessible for the disabled.

There are also buffered bike lanes and bike boxes for cyclists, and new traffic signals that improve the flow of motorized vehicles through the area.

The changes have prompted the American Planning Association to call Kansas City's Crossroads one of the great neighborhoods in America.

"Kansas City is growing and thriving and the Crossroads neighborhood is just yet another example of that," Breitenstein said. "Along with the increase in density comes pedestrian traffic and all forms of transportation. Bicycles. More vehicles. And really public works' goal is to always provide access."

The city also has added bright, high-tech LED streetlights to help the growing population feel safer and replaced century-old water mains for the Crossroads Community Association.

Tax increment financing from 22nd and Main streets is funding the upgrades.

The urban neighborhood also has received a sustainable communities award from the Mid America Regional Council for the project's improvements.