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quality of life iconmultimodal transportation

Introduction

Park and Ride Bus ShelterProvide a safe, more connected and convenient transportation system for all modes of travel, all ages, and abilities.

The transportation system of the future can increase consistency in travel times and improve the experience of traveling within Lee's Summit.

The community supports a multimodal transportation system that accommodates all modes or ways people travel. Motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, scooter users or transit riders can safely and conveniently use the transportation system regardless of age or ability.

Our multimodal network is critical for supporting safe movement and connectivity between places that support a high quality of life in our community. Lee’s Summit is home to people with a wide range of ages and levels of mobility the comprehensive plan’s vision for growth is based on focused mixed-use development in a series of activity centers and connecting corridors, with the remainder of the City’s growth adding to the single-family neighborhoods that make up much of the City today. Residents need a variety of transportation options in places where non-driving options are more practical for short trips to enjoy various amenities such as parks and cultural offerings, convenient access to local and regional jobs and schools, and reliable access to health care and healthy food sources. Infrastructure and policies that support the safe use of all modes are essential for supporting the City’s future evolution and growth.
 

Download the Multimodal Transportation Context section as a PDF


 

Transportation Intersects with Every Part of Our Lives and Belongs at the Table for All Types of Planning Decisions

Transportation planners for Lee’s Summit coordinate with other groups in a variety of ways to broaden resources and streamline cross-organizational efforts to advance local transportation planning needs and goals. Transportation planning is coordinated with housing, education, economic growth, infrastructure, utilities, emergency management, and more.

However, this element has taken an approach that focuses two goals for transportation on their connection with land use and growth management, letting strategy and policy approaches generally follow the types of growth and development in the City and where this is to be focused.

The element also sets a goal around making sure transportation systems are complete, connected, resilient and adaptable for the future, with more explicit connections to utilities, other key infrastructure, and public safety.

The rapid pace of technological change has affected many aspects of modern life, including transportation. In addition to the improvements this has allowed for vehicle performance, efficient coordination of infrastructure, and collection and distribution of data to multiple users, new forms of technology-driven transportation modes have emerged. Rideshare services have disrupted the taxi industry and are now commonly used for short trips in urban areas.

Electric scooters, bicycles, and other micromobility services and devices have changed ways that people make short trips, with many cities responding by crafting thoughtful policies and leveraging them to safely close the gaps in modal networks to provide valuable services to vulnerable communities. Autonomous vehicles show potential to greatly reduce the stress and danger of driving travel, especially in busy peak travel periods. And as the COVID-19 pandemic illustrated, working from home may take on new importance as a way of avoiding some types of commuting and travel altogether, at least for sometimes of a typical day or week.

In addition, other major disruptions to transportation and travel patterns prevalent in the United States over the last half-century offer added promise for the transportation network, although they must be met with revised policy approaches.

Autonomous Vehicles

The Blueprint for Autonomous Urbanism states that cities should focus on the near-term policies and decisions to adopt autonomous technologies for improved transportation outcomes, rather than overall increase in driving, greenhouse gas emissions, and diminished public space.

Technology and Smart Cities

Technologies such as signal coordination, connected vehicle communications, and fiberoptic based integration with other public service systems are increasingly integrated across the U.S. to improve traffic flow and reduce conditions that cause collisions at high-volume intersections. Technology is also changing how people pay for and find information about transportation options (such as pay-by-app technology, or real-time travel displays). All of these may influence how a person selects their route according to ease of access, comfort, and perception of safety.

Work from Home

More people are working from home than ever before, which puts fewer people at risk for traffic crashes. This has certainly been tested on a mass scale during the COVID-19 pandemic, with potential future changes to travel patterns that have yet to be observed and understood. The fewer car trips mean less gas purchased and declining gas tax revenue to fund maintenance of existing transportation infrastructure.

Goal: Create a safe, efficient, accessible multimodal transportation network for all users.

Goal: Provide safe, convenient and accessible travel options in the parts of the City where a more balanced system is key to a high quality of life.

Objective: Enhance safety, performance, efficiency and modal network access for all users.

The Land Use and Design element of the Ignite! Comprehensive Plan identifies five Activity Centers, including Downtown Lee’s Summit, that will be the focus of redevelopment, greater density development and mixed-use. It also identifies the connecting corridors of the City as creating a hub-and-spoke network connecting Downtown to the other activity centers. Both of these are the kinds of environments where density and a complementary mix of uses offer the greatest potential - and the most logical case - for non-driving travel to satisfy transportation needs. For this reason, these are the parts of the City where a more explicitly multimodal approach should be taken to transportation - both the capital projects and the strategic policy approaches to maintenance, design and behavior-changing incentives.

Lee’s Summit works with a variety of organizations and City government departments to address transportation needs. Planning for transportation involves several agencies and efforts dependent on various schedules, funding, organizational capacities and political processes. Traffic engineers in Public Works coordinate with Development Services and the police in efforts to implement transportation master plans, improve traffic safety and maximize multimodal operational performance. The City’s Planning Commission approves the Thoroughfare Master Plan and other infrastructure master plans within the Comprehensive Plan, which could impact the road network. The Livable Streets Advisory Board is responsible for education and oversight related to the City’s Livable Streets policy.</p>

This also extends outside of the City’s jurisdiction. The City is in the planning area for the Mid- America Regional Council, a federally designated metropolitan planning organization tasked with allocating funds for transportation improvements and coordinating with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to address regional transportation goals and challenges.

Lee’s Summit prioritized safety as a key concern in its transportation system. Safe mobility for all requires policies and monitoring that guides development of the physical environment. And transportation data and trends, and not just for vehicles but also for bicycles and pedestrians, factor into the City’s regular procedures on evaluating and addressing its transportation challenges. However, the City does not currently have a robust policy platform to assess how well infrastructure is performing for a broad range of users before crashes occur and safety-related challenges become apparent, and this leaves responses to these challenges still largely in favor of vehicle travel. Lee’s Summit uses Level of Service (LOS), a set of conventional engineering metrics that assesses infrastructure performance and the efficiency of movement on local roads, but only for vehicles. LOS tracks the performance of vehicle flow based on indicators such as vehicle speed, driver delay, and traffic congestion and can indicate where improvements are needed. However, as travel demands shift, especially in response to a focus on more dense, mixed-use development in key community nodes, new ways of evaluating infrastructure performance will be required to support those needs. The City’s LOS policy does not include non-motorized modes of travel and cannot consider right-of-ways it does not own or manage (such as MoDOT’s roads and highways).

However, the City has promoted safety for this full range of users through other approaches. The City’s Neighborhood Traffic Safety Program addresses safety issues with a ‘Three E’ strategy (Education, Enforcement, Engineering) using a priority ranking system. Other traffic engineering safety programs include the Road Safety Audit/ Neighborhood Sign Audit Program that is based on an expected asset life; Crash Analysis Program which assesses high-crash locations and community trends typically every three years; and a traffic safety analysis of all 22 schools every five years. The City has also made advancements in its infrastructure to support active transportation. Some of Lee’s Summit’s intersections feature pedestrian countdown signals and crosswalk striping to improve safety, but the City does not have a comprehensive approach to expanding these amenities.

With several significant developments underway or planned, the City should move toward careful prioritization of capital improvement projects and policies to support a shift in the number of vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles and transit vehicles sharing road networks. A first step to doing this is creating a more modernized system of metrics to evaluate its streets and roads for these users and to address challenges.

The City’s use of LOS standards applies only to vehicular traffic, and it will need a more robust way of understanding how other forms of travel in Activity Centers and along key connecting corridors are performing for users. Likewise, the City will need more focused channels of gathering and analyzing this information to support a more multimodal policy approach and to make more informed decisions. Many City plans, programs, studies and policies influence networks supporting cars, walking, biking and transit vehicles in Lee’s Summit. These four plan and policy documents are most significant in long-range transportation planning related decision making:

  • Livable Streets Policy
  • Access Management Code
  • Thoroughfare Master Plan
  • Bicycle Transportation Plan

In addition, the broad collection of policies, documents, and programs listed here is also relevant as a framework guiding daily operations:

  • Unimproved Roads
  • Greenway Plan
  • LOS Policy
  • Transit Demand Assessment
  • Sidewalk Inventory Analysis Report
  • Capital Improvement Plan
  • Code of Ordinances
  • Unified Development Ordinance
  • Design and Construction Manual
  • Traffic Signal Communications Master Plan
  • City Traffic Safety Programs consisting of:
    • Road Safety Audit Program
    • NeighborhoodTraffic Safety Program
    • Crash Analysis Program
    • School Area Traffic Safety Program

Independently, these efforts successfully address short and long-range planning approaches. Some plans and policies complement others, while some function more or less independently. For instance, the Thoroughfare Master Plan is positioned to function as a ‘flagship’ plan and leading a synchronized approach to implementing projects that support the City’s multimodal needs and growth trajectory, and several plans and policies address more detailed concerns in tandem with it. However, the ways that these plans and policies can be understood by the Lee’s Summit community as addressing the City’s needs may not be clear. Coordination between all transportation plans reinforces goals and actions that speak to the City’s vision while also identifying needs and prioritizing improvements. 

Goal: Lee’s Summit’s transportation networks, for any mode or technology, will be connected, complete, resilient and adaptable to the future.

Objective: Improve access to all modes of transportation for all users.

Objective: Reduce vehicular miles per household traveled annually.

Objective: Enhance connectivity within Lee's Summit and to the region.

Objective: Increase walking and biking for transportation and improved health.

Imagining a time when the average American household did not depend on automobiles to get around is difficult. In 2019, 93 percent of U.S. households owned at least one vehicle. During the 1950s auto industry boom, car ownership was part of the American Dream, and most families could only afford one car. Those who could not purchase a vehicle relied on walking, biking and public transit to get where they needed to go. Today, owning a car is common and access to public transportation in the Kansas City region much scarcer than before the auto boom.

Safe and convenient access to transportation varies based on income, physical and mental abilities. The community will experience increased economic and individual health, and unity when all residents are given more transportation choices.

A well-connected transportation network reduces the distances traveled to reach destinations, increases the options for routes of travel, and can facilitate walking and bicycling. Interconnected multimodal networks are characterized by seamless bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, direct routing, accessibility, and few physical barriers. Increased levels of transportation connectivity are also associated with higher levels of healthy physical activity. In addition, connected transportation networks also improve health by increasing access to health care, goods and services.

Characteristics of a comprehensive multimodal network:

  • Characteristics of a comprehensive multimodal network:
  • Journeys from home to a nearby bus stop offer a continuous sidewalk.
  • Bus stops connect to a point along a trail network to drop off a bicyclist.
  • Ride a bike safely from a trail or road to a train station or other destinations in town.

Transportation choices should provide flexibility in trip planning and not overcomplicate or lengthen the trip. A well-connected community offers a range of safe mobility options, with synchronicity between the physical environment and the transportation system.

Access and Equity

Although Lee’s Summit is a suburb that owes much of its prosperity and growth to automobile use, today, not all households own a vehicle. According to Census data for Lee’s Summit, 4% of households (1,377) do not own a car, and due to a lack of other transportation options, their mobility is limited. However, 8% of Lee’s Summit households (2,754) are families with children living below the poverty level, suggesting they are cost-burdened from owning a vehicle. The average household in Lee’s Summit spends $13,334 per year on transportation costs - 16% of the City’s median household income ($85,183).

While approximately 5.2% of Lee’s Summit residents live below the poverty line, reducing the annual cost of transportation would increase the amount of household income available for other needs.

Nearly 10,000 people over the driving age face mobility challenges (including hearing, vision or cognitive disabilities) that prevent them from using a car. Driving a privately-owned vehicle is not an option for these residents, and their dependents under the legal driving age must rely on walking or bicycling to get around due to the lack of a robust public transportation system.

Workforce

The Kansas City region’s efficient and far-reaching highway system provides short commutes to Lee’s Summit for many workers coming from outside the City. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, employers had difficulty filling job positions, potentially due to Lee’s Summit’s relatively higher cost of living and the lack of public transportation - factors that tend to limit economic growth.

Lee’s Summit residents rely primarily on automobiles for transportation, with the Census data counting 83 percent who commuted by driving during 2014 2018 (U.S. average was 76% during the same period). During this time frame, the City also saw an increase in car ownership of one- (15%), three- (21%) and four-vehicle (142%) households, with a minor decrease in two-car households (7 percent). Those people most reliant on cars are commuters - 61% of workers travel outside the City for work, with half of these journeys in the range of 10-24 miles. Only 6.5% took advantage of carpooling between 2014–2018.

Where Residents Are Leaving to Work

 

# of Workforce

% of Workforce

Kansas City, Mo

13,609

28.3%

Lee's Summit, Mo

9,987

20.8%

Overland Park, Ks

3,756

7.8%

Independence, Mo

2,873

6.0%

Blue Springs

1,596

3.3%

Kansas City, Ks

1,367

2.8%

Lenexa, Ks

1,354

2.8%

Olathe, Ks

873

1.8%

North Kansas City, Mo

803

1.7%

Grandview, Mo

758

1.6%

All Other Locations

11,085

23.5%

Total All Workforce

48,060

100%

 

 
Less than 1% either walk or take public transportation. Within city limits, there are 34 highway miles, including highways I-470, US-50, MO-350, MO-150 and MO-291. The City owns and maintains 1,068 lane miles of roadway.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 7.2% of Lee’s Summit residents worked from home, and that number is expected to grow post-pandemic, depending on the sector. More people leave Lee’s Summit to work than commute into the City for work.

Most Lee’s Summit residents who leave to work elsewhere drive alone to jobs in Jackson County and Johnson County, Kansas. More than half commute 10–24 miles.

Transit stops located along US 50 Highway south of I-470 serve the densely populated areas of Lee’s Summit. Stops along Lee’s Summit Road, the City’s northwest border, serve lower-density areas. Access to transit south of US 50 Highway is limited, and most transit users in this area of town do not walk to Lee’s Summit Express stops, they tend to park and ride. These fixed-route transit services have limited operations and limited connections for peak weekday commuter traffic hours only.

The Lee’s Summit Express primarily takes riders to and from Kansas City, Missouri, without service to Kansas, where more than 15% of Lee’s Summit residents work. Transit also does not serve Independence, where many workers come to work in Lee’s Summit.

Public transit service is limited in Lee’s Summit and to the rest of the region, with only two small bus routes (Route 340–TMC Lakewood and Route 550–Lee’s Summit Express served by RideKC). The express services have experienced a decline in ridership. Capacity continues to meet demand.

People requiring in-city, door-to-door service can use the on-demand RideKC Lee’s Summit service operated by OATS. This demand response transit serves approximately 25,300 trips annually. Demand has been increasing. Service denials have also been increasing, but they are still relatively few.

According to a Transit Service Assessment conducted for the City in 2015, the current annual ridership potential for transit in Lee’s Summit is around 171,000. Population growth forecasts for 2040 show that ridership potential could grow to 221,000 (only considering one-way trips), a 29% increase.

A 2015 Transit Service Assessment study identified challenges to providing adequate transit, including the low population of residents living within walkable distance to existing fixed bus routes. In addition, there are few connections to key urban areas and some routes require multiple transfers and inconvenient travel to reach destinations for the 30,000 commuters who frequently require transportation beyond Lee’s Summit boundaries.

Roadways

Efficient road planning in Lee’s Summit (and any city) influences how people choose to get around, including potential access to a variety of transportation modes. The Thoroughfare Master Plan shows which City’s primary streets and roads are expected to reach vehicle capacity by 2025 and 2040, pointing to a need for near-term and long-term strategies that accommodate travel demand and encourage a partial shift from people driving alone in cars for daily trips.

Rail

Amtrak passenger rail to or from Lee’s Summit offers potential increased regional connectivity and reduces single-person vehicle trips. However, the Missouri River Runner and Southwest Chief routes only make a few stops in the City per day, and only serve a limited number of travelers with specific destinations near its stops.

Municipal Airport Master Plan

Most of the airport’s current Master Plan and Business Plan recommendations are complete. Implementation of these plans strengthened the airport’s position as a premier Fixed Base Operator (FBO) in the Kansas City area and the U.S. The City of Lee’s Summit is currently developing a new 20-year Master Plan and Business Plan for the airport to ensure the airport’s continued success. The recent increase in aircraft operations and airport-owned land providing potentially more airfield access are driving the planning process.

Bicycles

Lee’s Summit became the first city in Missouri designated a Bicycle-Friendly Community in 2012, thanks to the Bicycle Transportation Plan’s adoption in the City’s Comprehensive Plan. The Bicycle Plan outlines a long-term strategy for providing improved bike routes and networks that will improve options for short trips. In contrast, but with overlapping accommodations, the Greenway Master Plan highlights the recreational biking and walking opportunities and the existing trail network.

All City-owned roadways permit bicycles, but not all are bike-friendly. The Bicycle Transportation Plan outlines a comprehensive approach to the overall bike network. The plan features more than 100 miles of connector routes throughout the City, including on-road, unprotected facilities (such as shared streets and bicycle lanes) and protected trails.

The Bicycle Transportation Plan emphasizes that “bicyclists need an interconnected system of greenway trails, shared-use paths and roadways to reach all desired destinations.” It also clarifies that “different types of bicycle facilities are appropriate in different situations.” This follows national best practices that emphasize flexibility in bicycle facility design, based on place-specific constraints.

Strategic infrastructure improvements throughout the City would encourage and safely accommodate more riders of all skill levels. One of the goals in the Greenway Master Plan is “to continue to incorporate on-street bicycle improvements and multi-use trails along streets as a routine part of scheduled roadway construction and retrofit projects.”

The Bicycle Transportation Plan identifies strategies for improving bike network design, route integration, and signage, including capital improvement projects, maintenance projects, and modification through development/ redevelopment projects. These strategies will require creative coordination and funding through potential sources like the Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality Program, Surface Transportation and Bridge Program, and Transportation Enhancements Program administered by the Mid-America Regional Council.

Pedestrians

The City Health Dashboard measures health and other drivers for the 750 largest U.S. cities with a population of more than 50,000. Overall, Lee’s Summit is healthier than the average of these municipalities. But in terms of walkability, Lee’s Summit scores lower than other cities. This is based on a specific measure of walkability that features a greater mix of land uses short distances apart. A different measure might help communities like Lee’s Summit, where people living in neighborhoods that are connected with their street and sidewalk networks might be able to walk, but may have limits on what they can walk to. Or, alternatively, Lee’s Summit might also adopt growth policies that promote this mix of use within short distances. The City Health Dashboard suggests that communities achieving this more balanced, destination-focused definition of walkability tend to have more active residents, including how often they walk and use public transportation. Research finds that people in such neighborhoods have lower rates of diabetes and obesity than those living in less walkable areas. Walkable neighborhoods often have less vehicle use, which also leads to better air quality.

The City’s network of sidewalks is comprehensive, thanks in part to voter support in approving $2.5 million for closing existing gaps and constructing new sidewalks. The City also influenced the design of interchange projects to increase connectivity across interstate freeways and links to two trail systems. Lee’s Summit was also the first city in Missouri to earn a Silver-level Walk-Friendly Community designation, thanks to a comprehensive series of community-supported efforts and the adoption of its Livable Streets Policy.

Like all municipalities, Lee’s Summit maintains an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition Plan to ensure compliance with that law’s accessibility requirements. The ADA Transition Plan is an important, ongoing tool for ensuring that sidewalks accommodate users of all abilities and are present on both sides of the street.

As the City continues to grow, demand could reach a point where more balanced travel modes could be necessary to ensure mobility for the community. The Thoroughfare Master Plan does not project land use; it reflects the land use illustrated in the Comprehensive Plan. The land uses are applied for trip generation purposed only to assess transportation forecasts, level of service and needs. The Thoroughfare Master Plan will be updated following the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan to reflect changes in land use including the activity centers and other intense land uses. These developments could attract many more residents, workers and visitors, thus increasing traffic congestion while significantly impacting mobility and the character and livability of the City’s older neighborhoods. A shift to alternative modes of travel could mitigate these outcomes, even in areas not designated as Activity Centers or connecting corridors in the Ignite! Comprehensive Plan.

Objective: Integrate new technology and emerging mobility options without reducing safety, access and performance.

Lee’s Summit generally enjoys a high standard of transportation service, as it has had the room to expand its transportation infrastructure along with the community’s growth and an automobile-focused travel paradigm has fit in well with the City’s historic development patterns (especially since World War II). The City has taken modern approaches to infrastructure planning and management that have allowed it to keep this high level of service. However, as Lee’s Summit matures as a community, it is looking ahead to new ways to promote growth, embrace new preferences in development patterns, and integrate other forms of travel into daily life. It is also seeing the challenges arising from a previously successful model of community building. To provide safe, accessible, and convenient options for all will require foresight into major themes of growing importance in transportation planning such as:

Focused Approaches to Roadway Safety

A growing awareness of roadway safety challenges, with the Vision Zero policy movement perhaps the nation’s most publicly known and promoted example, is based on targeted infrastructure improvements to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries. The core principles of this movement can continue to guide the City’s transportation decision-making.

Aging Population & Universal Design

Lee’s Summit is a Community for All Ages Gold Level recipient because of efforts to increase mobility for all generations. This should continue to be a driving element of how the City makes transportation decisions, understanding that not every one of advanced age can or wants to drive as their primary form of transportation.

Last Mile Connectivity

Those seeking to travel long distances without driving alone will still find “last-mile” connectivity a barrier compared to other alternatives. Transit in Lee’s Summit can play an essential role in closing the gaps to traveling to far-off destinations for a broader range of people. However, enhancements to alternative modes can benefit all users. For example, anyone who parks a car becomes a pedestrian at the beginning and end of their trip, so a quality walking environment improves parking systems that serve most areas.

Tech-Reliant Last Mile Strategies

Technologies once inconceivable are now a reality, and we must learn to adapt. One of the benefits of tech-reliant transportation is the potential to close gaps between travel modes or provide last-mile solutions. Since their emergence more than a decade ago, rideshare services have disrupted the taxi industry and are now commonly used for short trips in urban areas. Downtown business owners in Lee’s Summit are working with the City to support and expand this travel option. These businesses say accommodating these transportation companies (e.g., Lyft, Uber) provides convenience and reduces pressure on parking.

Micro-mobility

Although some communities initially struggled with the impacts of micro-mobility services and devices such as e-scooter, others crafted thoughtful policies and leveraged them to safely close the gaps in modal networks to provide valuable services to vulnerable communities.

Car-Free Lifestyles

People are giving up cars for a variety of reasons, including:

  • The cost burden of owning and maintaining a vehicle.
  • A desire to improve mental and emotional health by reducing stress associated with commuting and losing hours of personal productivity.
  • The need to improve physical health through increased walking and biking.
  • High demand for transportation modes that decrease environmental impact.

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transportation system map