Mayor Lucas seeks to change how Kansas City repairs streets

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mayor Quinton Lucas says the city needs to do a better job of making sure street repairs last longer.

To do this, the mayor will introduce a resolution to seek a new position in next year’s budget during the city council meeting on Thursday.

The mayor said too often rough roads are caused by utility work cutting into freshly paved streets.
He wants to make sure resurfacing lasts longer by prioritizing water, gas and other utility upgrades before streets get repaved.

Lucas learned how city crews use road quality measurements, traffic volumes and community complaints to determine which streets to fix first.

In 2017, Kansas City voters overwhelmingly approved an $800 million bond issue, $150 million of which was supposed to be dedicated to improving existing roads.

Unfortunately, the mayor said that’s not where some of the money has been spent.

“We promised everybody back in 2017 that we were going to work on existing roads, and then we started doing a bunch of new road projects,” Lucas said.

“Be that what it may, this is what’s important for us. A lot of these streets have failed, some have not been replaced in 20 years. I was just on Prospect Avenue where replavement was done in 2001. The road has largely failed around 50th Street. So that is what everybody wants us to do.”

Pandemic-related budget cuts are impacting the city’s ability to maintain streets.

The new positon Lucas wants to open would designate someone to coordinate between the water department, other utilities and street surfacing crews so that Kansas City stops having repeated repairs like drivers saw this summer on 39th Street, which was repaved only to be cut up by utility workers a few weeks later.

As a lawyer, Lucas made a somewhat surprising comment that he’d like to see fewer lawyers on the payroll at City Hall, and replace them with more paving crews to maintain the city’s roads and streets.

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