It’s a presentation that the city of Independence plans to make a monthly occurrence.

It’s a presentation that the city of Independence plans to make a monthly occurrence.

John Powell, city director of public works, presented an update Monday night on four infrastructure improvements at the Independence City Council study session. According to City Manager Robert Heacock, such presentations will take place monthly at study sessions in an effort to better inform Independence residents.

“A lot of times, we award the projects and then there’s not much talk about them mid-project,” said Heacock, adding that residents might think “Where is this?” after significant projects like stormwater improvements are approved.

 The four projects that received updates Monday night included the Waterfall Park Trail, the 2010 street overlay improvements project, the Norfleet to Willis stormwater improvements and the R.D. Mize Road improvements.

n Waterfall Park Trail: The new walking trail from Waterfall Park near Bass Pro Shops to the Little Blue River (where Jackson County has the Little Blue Trace Trail) also will feature a bicycle pedestrian trail, pedestrian signals and retaining walls west of Interstate 470 and under the I-470 bridge.

Among the project’s benefits, Powell said, are the connection of Adair and Waterfall parks to Little Blue Trace Trail, added recreation, quality of life improvements and pedestrian safety, including the ability for bicyclists to safely cross a major highway. Of the $480,000 total project costs, all but $60,000 came from federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. The remaining portion, used for design costs, came from Eastland tax increment financing funds.

The project is about one-fourth complete and is scheduled for completion this fall, Powell said.  

n 2010 street improvements: This year’s overlay program includes 14 projects across eight miles of Independence streets. Powell said such locations were chosen based on the condition of streets and their associated maintenance costs. New pavement markings also are included in the $1.08 million project, which is funded through street sales tax funds.

 “We wanted to make sure we were getting the most for our money in taking care of the most serious problems,” said Powell, adding that such improvements help reduce citizens’ vehicle maintenance costs, provide smoother and safer streets, lower the city’s maintenance costs “and help us preserve a valuable asset of the city.”

Construction is ready to begin, and the project will be completed this fall.

n Norfleet Road to Willis Avenue stormwater improvements: The stormwater system replacement is taking place in a residential area near 52nd Street in southwestern Independence and features 900 feet of storm pipes, new catch basins and channel improvements. The recently renewed stormwater sales tax funded the $500,000 project.

“Over the years, we’ve had reports of up to 15 houses receiving flooding in the basement because of this problem,” said Powell of the area, calling flood control, sewer protection and neighborhood improvements among the project’s benefits.

The project remains under construction and is scheduled for completion this fall.

n R.D. Mize Road: Improvements are taking place at R.D. Mize Road on a three-lane street from Hidden Valley Road to Eureka Road. Among the project’s features are nearly two miles of rebuilt streets, the addition of a center turn lane, sidewalk and bicycle paths on opposite sides of the street, storm drainage improvements and new traffic signals at the Jackson Drive and Little Blue Parkway intersections.

In “before” pictures of Eureka Road at R.D. Mize Road, Powell said the street had poor sight distance “and the guard rails looked like they had been hit.”

With a projected fall completion date, the benefits will include safety improvements, fewer travel delays, pedestrian capabilities, flood control and an improved east/west street to provide for future area economic development, according to Powell.

Federal funding provided nearly half of the project’s $6.36 million price tag, with the excise tax, street sales tax and county urban road system also providing funds.

 IN SHORT

The Independence City Council and city staff met in executive session for 45 minutes prior to Monday night’s study session and discussed litigation and labor negotiations.