Over 15 years ago when the west Barry Road renovation was in high gear I lobbied for on/off ramps at the intersection of Childress Avenue and Hwy. 152. The on ramp would be from Childress east onto 152 while the off ramp would be from 152 west onto Childress. I made the argument that over the ensuing years we could expect several housing developments to pop up and existing ones to expand between Amity Road and Hampton Road (Hwy K). This would result in a dangerously high volume of traffic on Barry. I spoke with everyone I could at every level of government concerning this inevitable problem. My efforts fell on deaf ears.
The original Barry Road expansion west of Congress called for a 110′ wide swath comprised of a four lane boulevard, 18′ wide median strip, bicycle paths, and new sidewalks. To accommodate this plan, 13 homes were on the chopping block via eminent domain. Mine was one of them. My neighbors and I explained to the city that this was a residential area and there was no need for such a massive roadway. We told the city a three lane with a center turn lane would suffice, especially considering the juxtaposition of Hwy 152.
The city finally agreed, proceeded to build what exists today, and in the process saved roughly $8.5 million and 10 of the 13 homes originally earmarked for destruction. It was then I told the city to take a small fraction of the savings and build the on/off ramps.
As I predicted, over the years the volume on Barry has increased significantly. Last year I resurrected the issue with everyone I knew as I had 14 years earlier. Once again I hit a brick wall. The reasons for rejecting the idea were many, but mostly centered around the theme of “not my job.”
Recently I learned that yet another development is being constructed on Barry just east of the Grass Pad. So I took a drive down to the site and spoke with the foreman of the company presently doing the infrastructure work. He was kind enough to show me the plans of the development. The first phase is roughly 120 living units built in fourplexes and duplexes. If I understood him correctly, there will be three phases to the entire development. When completed we can expect a total of around 350 new living quarters in that development alone. Another source tells me this means a daily increase of over 700 vehicles traversing up and down Barry from Amity. This anticipated traffic volume will be above the already unbearable volume of today.
The speed limit on Barry in 45 mph (which means most people go 50-55). As expected, several accidents have occurred over the years, especially at the intersection of Amity and Barry. Many of my neighbors have their driveways directly on Barry. Fifteen years ago we solicited the city to lower the speed limit, but to no avail. I have recently spoken with many of my neighbors and without exception they consider the current situation unacceptable and dangerous. With the increase in traffic, the situation will only get worse.
The need for the on/off ramps could not be more pressing. It would instantly relieve the volume of traffic on Barry and put a lot of it on Hwy 152 which is far more accommodating. It belongs there.
Three weeks ago I wrote the mayor of Kansas City concerning this issue. I have heard nothing back. Subsequently I copied Teresa Loar and Dan Fowler (city council members) the letter I sent to the mayor. Again, no response. I’m not sure what it takes to give impulse to movement on something like this, but it is obvious that my voice alone is not doing the trick. I ask that my neighbors get involved with this proposal. Write, call whomever you can. Spread the word. We cannot afford to have another Barry Road tragedy as we did in 2004. Get involved; it’s your neighborhood.
Everything I predicted 15 years ago has come true. Without immediate and decisive action the problem will escalate. It doesn’t take a $2 million survey with months of wasted analysis to figure out this one. It is a blinding flash of the obvious.
--John Kaye Kansas City in Platte County