South Loop Deck

Kansas City, KS / Planning / 3.4 acres / ~$139 million

Rendering courtesy of OJB Landscape Architecture.

Four interstate highways—collectively called the Loop—encircle downtown Kansas City, separating it from the rest of the city and the Missouri River. For more than a decade, residents have been exploring ideas to reconnect the city, spur economic development, and improve walkability and livability.

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has developed several possible plans to improve city connections and traffic congestion. Studies have looked at various opportunities and obstacles, such as ramp access, and one of the more viable improvement options includes a four-block park lid over a portion of I-670 known as South Loop Deck.

The nonprofit Downtown Council of Kansas City reached out to HNTB in 2017 for help determining the economic feasibility and impact of the lid project. They were able to show possible ways to lower costs, dropping the original $175 million estimate to about $139 million, while also delivering an almost 4:1 return on investment. That news boosted interest and momentum, though the pandemic disrupted progress.

Recently, however, this big idea is back on the table with the recent federal announcement of possible infrastructure investments, as well as growing interest for an additional project to possibly remove a portion of the North Loop highway, as highlighted in the Congress for New Urbanism’s national Freeways without Futures report. Together, the two concepts are being considered as part of an overall strategy called “Reimagining the Loop,” which is part of an even larger vision called Imagine Downtown KC 2030 Strategic Plan.