Highway 71: Connecting The Metro, Dividing Neighborhoods | KCUR

Highway 71: Connecting The Metro, Dividing Neighborhoods


Highway 71 was envisioned as "less than a freeway, more than a parkway."
Credit Tim Samoff / Flickr, Creative Commons

Highways connect people and places with a speed we've come to take for granted. But highways also have a history of dividing and sometimes nearly obliterating the very communities they intersect.

Perhaps the most controversial example of this phenomenon in Kansas City is U.S. Highway 71. 

Controversy has surrounded this highly traveled stretch of road since its inception. Today, people complain about the traffic lights. They say the highway encouraged white flight, resulting in a legacy of segregated communities. Still others object to having to cross a highway to get from one side of their own neighborhood to another. Meanwhile, commuters appreciate the convenience and speed with which they can traverse the greater metro.

Central Standard explores the past, present and future of U.S. Highway 71.