New year has same old concerns about traffic safety

The holidays arrived in a whoosh, hung in the air just a moment, and suddenly 2017 arrived in offbeat fashion. 

When Jan. 1 falls on a Sunday, a New Year feels slightly out of sync, like a car engine that’s running but one or two cylinders are not firing. The wait an extra day for the Rose Bowl Parade and bowl games on TV seems odd, since the year began on a Sunday. 

At least our Kansas City Chiefs are NFL playoffs bound as winners.

But just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean we can’t indulge in a little more wishful thinking. The start of a new year gives us an excuse. 

Wishes, like resolutions, don’t have to happen. Many won’t, but it’s nice to have some hopeful and wishful thoughts, especially when the new calendar year starts in the heart of winter.
So here are a few odds and ends that would be nice in 2017.

Platte County is highway rich when it comes to interstate miles and connections. However, Missouri officials have bemoaned for several years now that state highway funding for upgrades and improvements is lacking. 

A reluctance to improve funding by both voters and the state legislature has put state highway funds in a maintenance-mostly mode. That trickles down eventually to traffic issues for counties and cities. 

Officials have said Platte and Clay counties are among the fastest growing residential and commercial areas of the Kansas City metro area. And the Northland is set for a big growth burst thanks to new water and sewer lines close to highways north of the Missouri River. 

Commuters know traffic is up on the highways and rush hours can get clogged, especially near the river. Some of the Interstate 29 and Interstate 35 interchanges in places such as the Vivion Road and North Oak Trafficway areas were built for far, far less traffic. They’re dangerous. 

Major changes are going to be needed as traffic gets heavier. 

That’s not going to happen for years. But it would be nice if in the coming year there was more hope for long-range projects. Currently, the state, cities and counties are lucky to come up with keeping the basics going. Some funding choices will have to be made. 

Ultimately, we pay, but something’s going to have to move in the coming years or traffic will become a negative for the Northland.

Connector roads are an issue, too. 

Many were built long ago to be farm to market roads. Some are still following pioneer routes. 
I believe Highway 92 between Platte City and Smithville is dangerous due to hills, curves, narrowness and lots of driveways and intersections. 

The pavement has the black tire skid marks and a cross or two to prove it. It may be too late for major improvements due to so many houses built so close to the road.

We have new subdivisions underway or planned within the county. Most are upscale. 

I’m still wishing for a developer to build a new project that has nicely built, sustainable design, housing for moderate incomes mixed in with the upscale. Housing investment is so huge for builders and buyers, I understand the safe approach. 

But I’m hopeful someone with vision for the future will step forward with innovation.

Does anybody think about heading to Platte County for nightlife, like live music and plays? 

No? I didn’t think so. 

Kansas City has a market for such things, but the spots are south of the river and a discouraging long drive away for most of us. Maybe even in a major metropolitan area the demand for such things is so low that only a few such establishments can make a profit. 

Video and TV zombies we have become, but I wish we had a Knuckleheads or a lighter version of that nightclub north of the river. It takes a motivated operator who sincerely likes music to make it happen.

The announcement in late December that CVS Pharmacy was building a new distribution center near the airport was welcome news. More than 300 new jobs are expected to arrive with the center. 

Commercial growth near the KCI Corridor is a long-term, slow-but-steady trend. We can wish for more job creators in the corridor in the coming year. But remember the increased pressures on highway systems.

Mass transit in the form of light rail would be another wish. That will likely have to wait for another decade before hopeful wishing can begin. But years roll by quickly in this digital age, so we may be surprised by how much transpires for these wishes by 2018.

Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area, may be reached by e-mail at