February 22, 2020

Mallory Herrmann

The City of Lee’s Summit has taken its first formal step toward a $44.1 million renovation of the interchange at Missouri Route 291 North and US 50 Highway.

The city council this week voted to approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the city, the Missouri Office of Administration and the Missouri State Highway Patrol, a roadmap to guide the relocation of the Missouri Highway Patrol Troop A Headquarters to a new facility in Lee’s Summit.

The highway patrol’s relocation is just one piece of a multi-part plan to address the interchange, which is often congested and the site of frequent accidents.

The city plans to move Blue Parkway, the northern outer road, further north – allowing for proper reconstruction of the interchange. In order to adjust Blue Parkway, the Troop A headquarters will have to move, and QuikTrip and Lee’s Summit High School will also need to adjust.

David Bushek, chief counsel of economic development and planning, says that the city is working with all involved parties to manage the project. Bushek says the project has been designed to address two primary goals: enhancing traffic safety and facilitating redevelopment.

Unlike the recent redevelopment of the 50 Highway and 291 South interchange, which made use of both a diverging diamond and a roundabout, this project is conceptualized with a standard signalized intersection. Though Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) provided multiple concepts to the city in 2017, Bushek says the traditional intersection is preferred as it will help them preserve as much land as possible.

That land will be critical for financing the project. A proposed tax increment financing (TIF) application will be considered by the city’s TIF commission on Feb. 26. The city council expects to vote on the TIF application at their Mar. 17 session.

The TIF would allow four project areas to collect additional tax revenues to help fund the relocation of the highway patrol, which has an estimated cost of $8.1 million on its own. Those four project areas include “Project #1,” which would be located south of the redirected Blue Parkway, north of 50 Highway – land currently occupied by the highway patrol’s facility. The size of that parcel is expected to be similar in size and shape to the Summit Village center, which includes Houlihan’s and Sola Salon Studios, near 50 Highway and Chipman Road.

The second TIF project area would be the QuikTrip, which plans to build a new store just south of its current location in order to allow the redirection of Blue Parkway. The third and fourth areas are the recently approved Wendy’s restaurant, north of the existing QuikTrip, and the former Applebee’s restaurant.

The city is also working to submit a cost sharing application with the state of Missouri in April. Assuming that the application is approved and coordination with all other stakeholders goes smoothly, Bushek hopes to have all contracts signed by October 2020.

By the time the new highway patrol facility is designed and constructed, existing structures are demolished, state funding becomes available and other pieces of the puzzle fall into place, he says construction on the interchange project itself (including Blue Parkway) could start in the spring of 2023.

Bushek reminded the council that additional work will also be needed on the south side of 50 Highway, but that the initial project and TIF area is limited to the north side of the intersection.

“That is a lot of information in a short amount of time, sir,” said Mayor Bill Baird.

The council agreed that it was a lot of information to take in and that many questions still need to be answered, but they also expressed excitement to move forward with the project.

“I can’t imagine having anything better work out for that corner and that interchange than something like this,” said Councilmember Diane Forte.

The council voted unanimously to approve the MOU at their Feb. 18 meeting. Councilmember Trish Carlyle was absent.