Kearney Street, seen looking east toward National Ave. (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

North Springfield’s historic cruising street is due for a makeover and some safety updates in 2023.

Contracted road crews will resurface more than 11 miles of Kearney Street between the Springfield-Branson National Airport and Mulroy Road, just south of the site of the future Buc-ee’s mega gas station and retail store.

The project scope includes improving sidewalks and bringing them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, improving traffic safety by eliminating some driveways, improving intersections and replacing traffic signals at key intersections.

Construction on Kearney is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2023, with an estimated cost of about $13.3 million. On Nov. 14, the Springfield City Council held the first reading of a bill to reach a right-of-way agreement with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to work along Kearney Street.

Springfield’s right-of-way agreement extends to LeCompte Road. According to Assistant Director of Public Works Martin Gugel’s memo to the City Council, there is no cost to the city of Springfield. The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission (MHTC) assumes all costs.

“MHTC is responsible for all funding related to these improvements,” Gugel wrote. “Additionally, MHTC is responsible for the design, construction and inspection of the improvements.”

Overlaid illustrations on a Google Maps satellite image show where sidewalk, driveway and intersection improvements will happen at the intersection of Kearney Street and Grant Avenue, and on a piece of Kearney Street to the east of the intersection. The intersection of Grant and Kearney will be equipped with safer crosswalks. (Photo: Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission)

The Missouri Department of Transportation specified that Kearney will be resurfaced during overnight hours, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., but there will be lane closures, narrowed lanes and lane shifts at all times of day as the project unfolds. Turn lanes may be closed completely due to intersection work, which means drivers may need to take alternate routes if they usually use Kearney Street or its intersections.

The Ozarks Transportation Organization identified the stretch of Kearney Street between West Bypass and Kansas Expressway as a problem area for fatal accidents in its 2022 major thoroughfare plan. Over a five-year span from 2015 to 2019, that two-mile stretch of Kearney Street experienced 0.6 fatal accidents per year, making it as deadly as stretches of Interstate 44 and U.S. Highway 65.

Improving Kearney Street, particularly its major intersections at West Bypass, Kansas Expressway and North Glenstone Avenue, became part of the OTO’s “Destination 2045” comprehensive plan for long-term transportation projects. In addition to a higher-than-average number of fatal accidents, Kearney Street also ranked highly in the OTO’s analysis of injury accidents and rush-hour traffic backups.

“Current analysis shows that OTO’s most congested roadways include I-44, Kansas Expressway, Kearney, Glenstone, and U.S. 60 near Republic,” part of the Destination 2045 report reads.

Kearney Street, as seen looking west towards Grant Avenue (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

Rance Burger

Rance Burger covers local government for the Daily Citizen. His goal is to help people know more about what projects their government is involved in, and how their tax dollars are being spent. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with 15 years experience in journalism. Reach him at rburger@sgfcitizen.org or by calling 417-837-3669. Twitter: @RanceBurger More by Rance Burger