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We must plan ahead to avoid outgrowing Kansas City’s infrastructure


Kansas City is poised to become a great city ... a fraction of the tax revenue needed to maintain a new neighborhood. Still, nine out of every 10 homes are built in newer neighborhoods. We continue building new neighborhoods full of homes that don ...


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The city of Kansas City has 6,400 total lane miles of constructed streets and roadways, which is “equivalent to a two-lane road from Boston to San Diego,” as Public Works Department spokesman Sean Demory put it in 2015 File photo The Star The city of Kansas City has 6,400 total lane miles of constructed streets and roadways, which is “equivalent to a two-lane road from Boston to San Diego,” as Public Works Department spokesman Sean Demory put it in 2015 File photo The Star setLeadImageSize(); $(window).resize(function() { var clientWidth = Math.max(document.documentElement.clientWidth, window.innerWidth || 0); if (clientWidth > 767) { $('.lead-item').find('.caption').hide(); $('.lead-item .lead-caption').show(); } else { $('.lead-item .lead-caption').hide(); } setLeadImageSize(); }); $('.lead-item img').click(function(){ var elemWidth = Math.max(document.documentElement.clientWidth, window.innerWidth || 0); if(elemWidth = scrollEndPos || windowCurrentPos After peaking nearly 50 years ago, population growth is once again on a healthy upward trendOur downtown is more vibrant than it’s been for generationsPrivate reinvestment in Midtown areas like Armour Boulevard and the Troost corridor is exciting to see Great things are happeningStill, there is a challenge we need to face: We’ve built a city we can’t afford Like most cities in the country, we’ve built more infrastructure in the past 70 years than we can afford to maintainHighways, bridges, local streets, sidewalks, sewers and water lines are aging fast, and these utilities continue to crumbleEventually, replacement will be the only option, at which point no one knows where we’ll find the financial resources that will be needed to rebuild what we aren’t currently maintaining The city of Kansas City has 6,400 total lane miles of constructed streets and roadways, which is “equivalent to a two-lane road from Boston to San Diego,” as Public Works Department spokesman Sean Demory put it in 2015 (function() { var randomUrl = getRandomUrl('http://x.email.kansascity.com/ats/url.aspx?cr=663&wu=174,http://x.email.kansascity.com/ats/url.aspx?cr=663&wu=180,http://x.email.kansascity.com/ats/url.aspx?cr=663&wu=176'); var eventMethod = window.addEventListener ? "addEventListener" : "attachEvent"; var eventer = window[eventMethod]; var messageEvent = eventMethod == "attachEvent" ? "onmessage" : "message"; $("", { "class" : "col-xs-12", "src" : randomUrl, "scrolling" : "no", "frameborder" : "no" }).appendTo("#newsletter-signUpWidget"); eventer(messageEvent, function(e) { if (randomUrl.indexOf(e.origin) != -1 ) { var key = e.message ? "message" : "data"; var data = JSON.parse(e[key]); switch(data.messageid) { case 100: var signupevent = new CustomEvent( 'signup', {"detail": data} ); window.dispatchEvent( signupevent ); break; case 200: $('#newsletter-signUpWidget iframe').css('height', data.iframe.height); break; } } }, false ); })(); Never miss a local story. Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access. SUBSCRIBE NOW Of these 6,400 lane miles, 4,000 are neighborhood streets and cul-de-sacsEven using conservative estimates, the replacement value of these streets is in the billions of dollars. For the 2015-2016 fiscal year, Kansas City budgeted $13 million for street maintenanceAt that rate, we are relying on our streets to last hundreds of yearsThey don’t. Each resident in Kansas City now has four times as much city to maintain as our predecessors had in 1950The amount of infrastructure we’ve built per capita is among the highest in the country And we continue to make things worseThe average home value in our city generates only a fraction of the tax revenue needed to maintain a new neighborhoodStill, nine out of every 10 homes are built in newer neighborhoodsWe continue building new neighborhoods full of homes that don’t create enough value to afford the infrastructure that supports themVoters’ approval of $800 million in general obligation bonds last year was a positive step forward, but it is far short of what is actually needed. We can change the courseWe can we move away from a pattern of growth that increases our liabilities toward a pattern that builds valueMore than that, we can take advantage of our positive momentum and our relative affordability and lead the way forward for other cities. In January, Gould Evans and the Kansas City Public Library — with support from the Mid-America Regional Council, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the local council of the Urban Land Institute, Newmark Grubb Zimmer and the National Association of Realtors — are presenting a new speaker series called Making a Great City. The series will begin Jan30 at the library’s Plaza Branch with transportation engineer and urban planner Charles Marohn of the Strong Towns organizationHe and future speakers will help us understand how cities got to this point and how we can address our infrastructure challenges. Together, we can become a more productive city — a great city. Dennis Strait is a landscape architect, architect and the principal in charge of the Kansas City Planning Studio of Gould Evans !function(){var TOUT=window.TOUT=window.TOUT||{},utils={getCanonicalLinkHref:function(){for(var links=document.getElementsByTagName("link"),i=0;i-1}}}(); !function(){var TOUT=window.TOUT=window.TOUT||{};if(console&&console.log&&console.log("Tout SDK: "+ +new Date),!TOUT._sdkScriptTagParsedAt){TOUT._sdkScriptTagParsedAt=new Date,TOUT.EMBED_CODE_VERSION="1.2.0";var sdkHost=TOUT.SDK_HOST||"platform.tout.com",sdkProtocol=TOUT.SDK_PROTOCOL||("https:"==window.location.protocol?"https:":"http:"),analyticsHost=TOUT.SDK_ANALYTICS_HOST||"analytics.tout.com",analyticsProtocol=TOUT.SDK_ANALYTICS_PROTOCOL||sdkProtocol;TOUT.onReady=TOUT.onReady||function(func){return TOUT._onReadyQueue=TOUT._onReadyQueue||[],TOUT._onReadyQueue.push(func),TOUT},TOUT.fireSimpleAnalyticsPixel=function(trigger_name,attrs){var img=new 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