When neighborhood leaders in the Green Impact Zone began drafting strategies to transform the community, infrastructure improvements were high on the list. The Kansas City region secured a TIGER grant — federal stimulus funds through a program called Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER — to pay for sidewalk, curb and street improvements that will make it safer and easier for residents to get around.

Work is currently underway to repair and replace sidewalks in several neighborhoods in the Green Impact Zone. Unfortunately, in some cases, this means removing mature trees. Trees are a vital part of any neighborhood, and the city’s Public Works and Parks & Recreation departments work to retain every tree possible during infrastructure repair or new construction.

Back in 2010, before any of the TIGER improvements began, the city of Kansas City, Mo., completed all necessary environmental and historical reviews and submitted plans to the Federal Transit Administration, the agency overseeing the grant funds, for approval. The FTA issued what’s known as a “Categorical Exclusion,” the official approval necessary for the project to proceed. The city recently submitted an amended plan with complete details about tree removals, and the FTA has authorized the city to move forward with the project.

We’ve heard from a lot of people over the past few weeks — many who live in the neighborhoods affected, and many who do not. Some are eagerly anticipating safer, smoother sidewalks, while others deplore the loss of any trees under any circumstances.

The Green Impact Zone worked with the city of Kansas City and the Mid-America Regional Council to develop a fact sheet that answers some of the questions people have asked about the trees. We’ve also added a detailed map created by the KCMO Public Works department to our website. By zooming in on this PDF file, you can see which trees are scheduled for removal and which trees will remain.

The city has made a firm commitment to plant two trees for every tree that is cut down. The exact species and location will be determined by city foresters using an approved tree list that uses best practices for “the right tree in the right place” to accommodate future growth.

With support from the TIGER grant, Green Impact Zone residents will enjoy smoother, safer sidewalks for many years to come — with no out-of-pocket expenses for property owners. All told, more than $26 million will be spent on infrastructure in the Green Impact Zone. In addition to sidewalk repair, TIGER funds will pay for new curbs and driveway approaches, traffic signal improvements, new transit facilities and street resurfacing — including new pervious pavement to help with stormwater runoff.

When you consider that Kansas City normally has less than $5 million per year to spend on sidewalk repair in the entire city of more than 300 square miles, this in an amazing investment in a relatively small area.