Residents question bike lanes in $9.5M intersection construction project in Kansas City

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A plan to provide more public housing in a northeast neighborhood is getting a boost with $5 million in federal funds.

The money will help pay for reconstruction of the intersection of Martin Luther King Boulevard and Independence Avenue. The plan calls for new sidewalks and a cycling lane at the intersection in addition to turn lanes that will help with traffic flow.

However, some residents are questioning the need for bike lanes. They think that building one here would force the city to make a bike route all the way down Martin Luther King Boulevard.

"There's been a lot of discussion and a lot of controversy, quite frankly, about the bike lane issue," Peter Hughes, of the Center City Neighborhood Association, said.

Hughes calls the city's bike plan too expensive and too extensive when it comes to parking-protected bike lanes like the ones that have been criticized along Armour Boulevard.

On the other hand, supporters of the MLK Gateway claim people in Kansas City's northeast neighborhood need alternate transportation options.

"On a street that’s getting completely redone from the soil on up, adding an extra little space for bikes is not a major additional cost when you’re talking about an overall $9 million project," Councilman Eric Bunch said.

City GO bonds will pay for about $4.5 million of the project. Critics claim GO bonds should not fund new infrastructure like a cycling track.

Yet, council members say this is a good example of how GO bonds should be spent to improve an aging intersection.

There currently are no sidewalks on Martin Luther King Boulevard between Independence Avenue and Admiral Boulevard. The plan would create sidewalks 8 feet wide, making the area safer for walkers and runners.

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