Water main construction paves way for streetcar, causes hassle for drivers

Closures due to construction have caused many traffic hassles and detours for commuting UMKC students and KC residents alike.

Gabe Bartholome

Kansas City’s Water Main Replacement Program has required certain routes – including high-traffic areas – be closed throughout its seven-year construction process. These closures have caused many traffic hassles and detours for commuting UMKC students and KC residents alike.

Sophomore Whitney Rodner, a UMKC commuter student, says that while she understands the construction is important for the city’s infrastructure and the extension of the KC Streetcar, the road work still makes travelling to campus difficult.

“I commute to UMKC from Raymore, so I have a ways to drive,” Rodner said. “On average, it was taking me about 30 minutes to get to campus, but now it’s bumped up to around 40 to 45 because of the detours and construction.”

While students like Rodner face obstacles with the ongoing construction, Kansas City Director of City Communications Chris Hernandez said that the desirability of the streetcar in the long run will outweigh the current difficulties for students. 

“I think this streetcar will benefit many UMKC students,” Hernandez said. “It will be free, and the inconveniences now are a small price to pay for the benefits it will bring to the students.”

The goal of the construction is to replace old water mains throughout the city with new ones. Upon installation, the new water mains are expected to last at least 100 years. 

Currently, most of the construction is happening between Main Street and Volker Boulevard. However, KC Water plans to shift its focus towards the following regions later this month:

  • 7th Street between May and Central
  • Wyandotte Street between 13th and 14th
  • Broadway Boulevard between 17th and 18th
  • Central Street between 17th and 18th
  • 17th Street between Broadway and Central
  • Cherry Street between 11th and 12th
  • 12th Street between Locust and Cherry
  • Holmes Street between 13th and 14th
  • 14th Street between Locust and Holmes
  • Locust Street between Truman and 16th
(KC Water)

“[There will be] three planned outages,” project manager Davis McDonald-MacLin, speaking of the areas slated for construction, said. “There might be an unplanned outage due to a water main break or some other unforeseen reason.”

McDonald-MacLin also stated that the company will notify residents of outages at least 48 hours in advance, and these outages will only last about four hours.

Residents who live within these areas will also experience construction along the curbside of their homes, as KC Water will be replacing the water mains right beneath the streets. Upon completion, the company says it will restore all the lawns and sidewalks back to normal.

The construction in these areas is expected to run through March 2022.

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