by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas

When bulldozers and steamrollers tore through neighborhoods south of downtown five decades ago to make way for a highway, destroying the homes in the neighborhoods my grandmother, great aunts, cousins, and so many others worked so hard to build for themselves—it left our community with scars we will never forget.

The decision to build 71 Highway was to allow people in the suburbs to more quickly pass through Black neighborhoods to get downtown. This decision, made well before I was born, continues to negatively affect those living around the 71 Highway corridor today, cutting off thousands of Black Kansas Citians from opportunities on the other side of the highway, including access to transportation, healthcare, healthy food options, and jobs. It’s also one of Kansas City’s deadliest corridors for pedestrians and drivers.

As someone whose family had to move when construction for 71 Highway started, it’s personal for me to right the wrongs of decisions made in our City’s past and bring the communities our families built so long ago back together.
For the first three years of my administration, I looked out my window at City Hall, across the bisected communities on either side of 71 Highway, while cars speed by in between, searching for ways to bring both pieces back together. We finally found a solution when President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was passed.

I am proud that in its first year of implementation, my administration secured a $5 million U.S. Department of Transportation Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity federal grant to begin designing improvements to 71 Highway as part of President Biden’s Investing in America initiative. And, importantly, we secured the same federal commitment for Kansas City’s Reconnecting the Westside project, which was one of 45 projects chosen out of more than 400 applications. What my family and other Black families experienced on the East side, as a result of the construction of 71 Highway, the Westside’s Hispanic community also experienced as a result of the construction of I-35.

Since its passage, Kansas City has received more than $14 million through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to grow and improve our transportation systems and make intersections across our community safer.

With a mission of transforming our communities, especially those who have been too often left behind, the U.S. Department of Transportation, under President Biden, has delivered more funding to communities than in the entire history of the Department. That’s billions of dollars hitting the streets of cities like ours across the country, seeking to make our transit systems more equitable, while creating good paying union jobs, and ensuring our communities are built to last for generations.

Through President Biden’s Investing in America initiatives, we are building transportation systems for the future and ensuring our neighborhoods are cleaned up and healthy. We received a $12 million federal grant to help achieve our goal of planting 10,000 trees over the next four years to promote cleaner air and cooler temperatures in neighborhoods feeling the negative effects of climate change. We also received $1 million to mitigate lead in soils in vacant lots in the Ivanhoe neighborhood to prepare the land for new homes.

Thanks to Joe Biden, Kansas City government is putting more people to work to achieve the equitable vision we have for our City. In the years ahead, we will continue to see the result of historic federal investment in Kansas City, ensuring our children grow up in a Kansas City with safe roads, sidewalks, and bridges to drive, walk, or bike on; with clean air to breathe, and clean soil to build their future homes on; with trees to climb on every neighborhood block; and easy, efficient transit connections to every part of our city. It’s the future all of us dream of and this is just the beginning.

About Mayor Quinton Lucas
Born and raised in Kansas City’s East Side communities, Mayor Quinton Lucas has served as the 55th mayor of Kansas City since 2019.

Mayor Quinton Lucas has been a consistent and strong ally of organized labor in and around Kansas City, never afraid to join workers on the picket line and proud to be endorsed by all area unions.

As mayor, he led Kansas City’s adoption of the nationally acclaimed zero-fare transit initiative, which maintains a fare free public transit system on bus and rail transit citywide. Mayor Lucas also championed the resurfacing of hundreds of miles of Kansas City’s streets and sidewalks, addressing a year’s long maintenance backlog in every Kansas City neighborhood.

Having experienced homelessness in his youth, Mayor Lucas created the City’s first Housing Trust Fund, spurring the development of hundreds of units of housing attainable for Kansas Citians earning incomes between $0 and $42,000 per year.

During his tenure, Mayor Lucas has promoted Kansas City globally, bringing new conferences and businesses to the City and securing the City’s position as one of only 11 American cities to host the 2026 Soccer World Cup.

Understanding Kansas City is at its best when all are represented, Mayor Lucas has promoted women and persons from historically underrepresented groups to a majority of the seats on City boards and commissions.

Known as “Mayor Q” by many, Lucas volunteers extensively with area schools, churches, and organizations, including teaching and providing mentorship to inmates in local prisons. A lawyer and teacher, Mayor Lucas is a member of the law faculty at the University of Kansas.

He and his wife, Katherine, are the proud parents of one son, Bennett.

Mayor Lucas is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and obtained a law degree from Cornell University. Prior to serving as mayor, he represented the City’s Third District At-Large on the City Council where he led on issues such as the new airport terminal, economic development, and public safety.