West 39th Street might finally see some safety improvements after repeated problems

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There are plans to improve pedestrian and traffic safety along West 39th Street, bringing relief to business owners in the Volker neighborhood.

Christina McIntosh, the co-owner at Tiki Taco, said she’s tired of seeing people getting hit by vehicles outside of her restaurant on West 39th, near Bell Street.

“It’s a very dangerous place to walk across the street,” McIntosh said. “Cars speed through here, knowing that people walk up and down these roads all day long.”

On Tuesday, surveillance video on McIntosh’s building caught a crash involving a pedestrian who landed on the hood of a car while crossing the street. You can see the crazy surveillance footage in the video player above.

“It just was kind of all really fast,” she said. “I ran over to see if he was OK, and he had blood all over his arm and everything.”

The man walked away with minor injuries, but it’s the most recent example of the lack of safety that’s plaguing the two-lane street with parking on both sides.

In January, a hit-and-run driver slammed their car into one of McIntosh’s employees as she delivered food to a customer parked near the curb of the business. The employee suffered injuries to her spine.

Last week, 28-year-old Tyler Sears was killed after he crashed his motorcycle into a car that was pulling onto West 39th, near Terrace Street. McIntosh knew Sears, too.

“It’s just, it’s really sad and it doesn’t seem like anybody’s improving anything,” she said.

On Thursday, FOX4’s Zac Summers reached out to the city and talked with Maggie Green, a spokeswoman for the Public Works Department. Green said the city received a Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) request in 2017 to “address traffic calming in the entirety of the Volker neighborhood.”

“We are listening to the neighborhood's concerns and are trying to make it work,” Green said. “We’ve done considerable assessment along that corridor, looking at all kinds of traffic conditions.

The city assessed conditions and worked with the 39th Street Community Improvement Development to identify the neighborhood’s biggest needs. Together, they decided to focus improvements at the intersections of 39th and Bell, Genessee and Terrace streets.

“We know that some of the sight lines are a little difficult to see around, so that’s something that we’re going to prioritize at those three locations,” Green said.

Green said the city is currently working with a designer to improve visibility and pedestrian safety along the corridor but stressed that details are limited.

“We know for sure demarcating the crosswalks will be one of the things but exactly what is going to be implemented, we are working on that right now,” she said.

Green said the city expects to have final designs of the improvements this summer. Actual work on West 39th could start by the end of the year or early next year.

“It’s a careful balance of listening to neighborhood concerns, trying to figure out what we can do with the resources that we have, and I think we’re coming up with a solution that will help safety, improve it along the corridor,” she said.

McIntosh is counting on the improvements because she said she wants her business and the entire neighborhood to continue to thrive.

“It affects anybody who’s doing business on 39th Street,” she said. “We just really need to protect everybody in the community and anyone who wants to visit us.”

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