U.S. Highway 50/Route 291 Interchange Opens
$16 million “diverge-about” project touted as key to safety, traffic flow and economic growth
The City of Lee’s Summit and its project partners celebrated the official opening of a new $16 million interchange at U.S. 50 and Route 291 South with a ceremonial ribbon cutting on Friday, May 11. The project reconstructed the 40-year-old Route 291 overpass into a diverging diamond design, added a roundabout at Blue Parkway and Jefferson Street, and realigned Oldham Parkway.
“This new interchange will ease congestion and accommodate higher traffic volumes along the heavily traveled Route 291 while promoting safety for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists,” said Lee’s Summit Mayor Bill Baird. “The City wishes to thank Lee’s Summit residents for supporting public funding for this important infrastructure project and the local business community for casting a vision more than a decade ago for this effort. In addition, we are grateful to our many partners at all levels of government who have made this interchange possible.”
In addition to improving traffic flow and providing public safety, the new interchange is expected to increase economic growth and expansion south of U.S. 50. A decade ago, a group of Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council investors formed the Gateway Business Alliance to advocate for public funding of transportation infrastructure projects such as the 50/291 interchange.
“A primary objective of the Gateway Business Alliance was to open up areas for development on the south side of Lee’s Summit,” said Will Coates, former owner of Billy Goat Industries and former co-chair of the Gateway Business Alliance. “We have long felt our biggest obstacle to economic growth was transportation access and roads going through that area. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to see this project come to fruition.”
LSEDC President Rick McDowell agreed that the corridor is the next frontier for economic growth in Lee’s Summit.
“This project opens up hundreds of acres for commercial development,” McDowell said. “With the new Blackwell Road interchange opening to the east and the new Bailey Road Bridge opening to the west, these transportation infrastructure projects provide critical access points for jobs, industry and commerce on the south side of Lee’s Summit.”
The $16 million interchange was funded through a three-part cost sharing agreement, with the City of Lee’s Summit paying $8 million; $6.8 million secured by the City of Lee’s Summit through the Mid-America Regional Council Surface Transportation Program (STP) funding process; and the Missouri Department of Transportation paying the remaining $1.2 million.
“Collaboration at all levels of government have made this critical infrastructure project possible,” said Lee’s Summit Public Works Director Dena Mezger. “In addition, we are grateful to the voters of Lee’s Summit who in 2014 approved public bonds to fund the interchange.”
Radmacher Brothers Construction based in Pleasant Hill, Mo., provided general construction services for the interchange project, and GBA of Lenexa, Kan. provided engineering and design services.