The realization didn’t hit until south of Barry Road, probably. I might have been too distracted by the mental preparation for the pumpkin carving event I was headed to in Parkville. After all, I truly do enjoy a lot about decorative gourd season, including the fact I can get pumpkin spiced anything at most retail locations.
But I finally did realize that I wasn’t slowing down to 55, nor being restricted to one or two lanes as I made my trek south Thursday, Oct. 22.
Yes, that’s right: Interstate 29 is back in full service along the KCI corridor in Platte County. Our semi-long countian nightmare has ended, and hopefully, we have safer overpass bridges to show for the frustration, congestion and obstruction.
The work started way back in the spring with a promise to end by early fall.
However, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) always includes that pesky tagline: “All work is weather dependent.” And for good reason. Thankfully, the weather mostly cooperated, and I’m pretty sure this large-scale project, which affected I-29 from just north of Platte City to nearly Riverside during the past seven months or so.
Of course, with cutbacks in MoDOT funding being well documented, we might consider ourselves lucky to have received so much attention on this project.
Remaining thankful while slamming on the brakes to get down to 35 miles per hour on the interstate can be difficult. And based on the surface after all of the lane alterations to accommodate the work, I’d be willing to bet there might be a few touch-up jobs still to come.
I know I’ll try to remember how agonizing the past few months were to travel if there’s a brief delay ahead. And yes, that’s a bit of hyperbole.
While on the subject of traffic, all of the news about extending Kentucky Avenue — in both directions — comes off as shiny good.
I’ve started thinking now that the project has been confirmed, as reported last week, about the actual impact. I’m of the belief that the east-west corridor created will be beneficial to Platte City, especially with improved traffic flow for the occasional total mess around QuikTrip, McDonald’s and Taco Bell.
However, this project’s specifications, specifically the change in grade around the curve at existing Kentucky Avenue, will require some significant work. So what does that mean for traffic along Platte City’s busiest roadway?
I reached out to Platte City city administrator DJ Gehrt to try and get some answers.
With the project manual still to be completed, the traffic impact remains a bit of an unknown, but he believes that MoDOT has shown efficiency in construction/rehab projects to existing roadways that should minimize the effects. The project manual should be completed in late December or early January, according to Gehrt, with more information available at that time.
Construction should start in April or early May with completion set for no later than Dec. 1, 2016 with the intent to do as much work as possible while school is not in session.
A Park Hill High School senior joined a rather grown-up conversation among civic leaders last week. Kansas City civic leaders want to make it just as hard to buy a pack of cigarettes as it is to buy a six-pack of beer.
The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and other organizations announced the launch of Tobacco 21|KC on Thursday morning, starting a campaign to urge all municipalities in the Kansas City metro area to raise the legal age for buying tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21. Jordan Elder — co-chair of Youth With Vision, a Northland student group advocating on drug and alcohol issues — spoke during the presentation and relayed her group’s support for the initiative.
According to Gehrt, the Tobacco 21|KC project has not contacted Platte City, and it likely wouldn’t be included. However, the majority of Platte County from KCI Airport to the south could end up affected.
The groups involved, plus the more than 100 organizations already pledging support, see this as a way to help cut down on teenage smoking. Elder said that high school students that reach their 18th birthday before graduation provide a pipeline to underage smokers, and the age increase could help curb that trend.
Another trend has been municipalities in the United States looking at moving the legal age to purchase tobacco products up to 21. New York City and Columbia, Mo. among the largest cities to enact such laws.
This will likely spur more public debate over government interference with personal choices.
Public smoking bans have long been the effort of heated back-and-forths between supporters and opponents. Tobacco 21|KC addresses one of the likely arguments in its information presented on the KC Chamber’s website, saying that being able to commit to the military at the age of 18 doesn’t equate to the maturity to commit to a lifetime of tobacco use at the same age.
I’m betting this will be a fun debate to watch as this issue draws more public attention. And by fun, I mean agonizing like sitting in traffic along the I-29 construction zone.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Citizen_Ross.