Op Ed
September 7, 2007

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Purpose and Method of Red Bridge Road Study in Trouble
by the Friends of Red Bridge

Friends of Red Bridge was excited to participate in the first meeting of the advisory committee for "Future Red Bridge" held on Aug. 30. We believed this to be an opportunity to find a solution, which would be good for the neighborhoods, good for the park and historic setting of the bridge, and good for the environment. We believed this to be an opportunity for Kansas City to employ a planning method known as Context Sensitive Solutions.

CSS is a collaborative, multi-disciplinary process mandated by the Federal Highway Administration for adoption by state departments of transportation across the country.

While we firmly believe in an attempt to find a better solution, there are many issues with the city's process and with those who have been invited (or not invited) to participate. Among them:

The compacted schedule virtually assures a lack of thoroughness.

The purpose of the entire study was set by (Kansas City, MO City) Council resolution and by many public statements by council members to be the creation of alternative plans to the previous design. However, the project team has rejected that mandate, and instead has substituted the goal of creating a community consensus.

Though Friends of Red Bridge called for the application of Context Sensitive Solutions, and we had the cooperation of our council representatives in that regard, what is actually being presented is some distant relative. The design team chosen by the city does not seem to understand the requirements of the process. Many stakeholders are not at the table and should be, such as environmental advocates, historical concerns and city planners.

On the other hand, commercial interests are heavily represented. The representative of the South Kansas City Chamber in her opening comments stated that she was there to represent business interests. If so, the representatives of Lipari's Sun Fresh and the International House of Prayer are redundant.

The study area only goes to Holmes Road; no neighborhood associations to the west have been invited. A planned public opinion survey originally excluded almost everyone west of the project area. (They were included only after several people pointed out that those people should be included.)

Last Thursday's Future Red Bridge advisory committee meeting was mainly a presentation of the proposed process. As a part of the process those in attendance were asked to state what they felt should be considered in the new design. Many participants expressed interest in the same issues: safety for both vehicles and neighborhoods, maintaining the historical nature of the area, and keeping it in scale with the park setting.

However, Tim Henry, representing Citizens for New Red Bridge, stated that his group would not accept anything other than the original massive bridge, calling into question the possibility of a consensus.

For more information, to www.redbridgeroad.org or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Context_Sensitive_Solutions


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