‘It’s brutal’: Metro drivers frustrated as road construction hits peak season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There are fewer drivers on the roads with people working and learning from home, but there are other numbers that have increased and have law enforcement and experts concerned in Kansas and Missouri.

Kansas and Missouri’s transportation departments report an increase in road deaths, and Missouri reports an increase in speeding and crashes.

MoDOT recorded 515 deaths at this time last year, and currently the state is at 614 deaths for an increase of 11%. Deaths this year in Kansas have gone up 2.3% from January to 265.

Meanwhile, drivers are concerned with the amount of construction they’re seeing.

A Kansas City GoKC Bond Project in the Northland has caused backups down 64th Street off Interstate 29. Troy Oliphant said he remembers the construction there beginning about two months ago.

“You never know when you’re going to come through here and they actually close one of the lanes,” he said. “So when they do close the lane, it’ll be backed up for a mile or better.”

He and his wife actually walked to the dentist during one particularly bad time.

“We go to this dentist, and we’ve come down here, saw it was blocked, parked on the other side and just walked over because it was that bad,” Oliphant said.

Logan Dawson makes pizza at Papa Murphy’s five days a week.

“It’s brutal trying to take that right hand turn to get on and get over here. It’s brutal,” he said. “There was already a lot of accidents on this road as is, and this is just adding a whole other element with closing down lanes and stuff trying to get it done.”

Both men would’ve liked to see the construction ramp up in March during stay-at-home orders. But both MoDOT and KDOT report normal numbers for the amount of construction, even in a pandemic.

KDOT’s public affairs manager said Kansas is “able to have a very active road construction season because the Kansas Legislature passed the IKE Transportation Plan this year.”

“KDOT is in the gearing-up stage for construction projects. Current ongoing projects were funded before the COVID crisis; however, the IKE Transportation plan has allowed KDOT to move 40 projects across the state into our development pipeline.”

You can track road projects through Kansas City, MoDOT and KDOT at these links.

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