Kansas City, Missouri

According to ehuacom, Kansas City is a metropolitan area consisting of Kansas City, Kansas with a population of 155,000 and Kansas City, Missouri with a population of 508,000. Together, both Kansas City’s populations have 663,000 and the metropolitan area has 2,199,000 inhabitants (2021).


According to mcat-test-centers, Kansas City is located on the Missouri River and the Kansas River flows into it at the center. The state line between Missouri and Kansas runs right through the metropolitan area. The urban area is in a fairly flat area with some rolling hills in the transition from prairies to more wooded area in Missouri. There are several reservoirs in the southeast of the agglomeration. Kansas City is located 280 kilometers northeast of Wichita, 390 kilometers west of St. Louis and 265 kilometers southeast of Omaha. The agglomeration is quite large for the size of the population, measuring 45 kilometers from east to west and 45 kilometers from north to south. The city is characterized by a relatively low density and there have been no natural obstacles so that the city has been able to grow in a balanced way in all directions. Kansas City is often cited as one of the best and most affordable cities to live in.

Road network

Kansas City’s highway network.

The interchange between I-70 and I-435 in eastern Kansas City.

Kansas City has the most extensive highway network in the United States when measured by the number of lane kilometers per capita. [1] This is mainly because the ring road is quite long and also runs for a large part through uninhabited area with 2×3 lanes. In addition, most highways have more than sufficient capacity, especially for connections to the center that are traditionally used less than the connections to the center. In addition, there are some highway sections with intensities that do not immediately necessitate a highway.

The city center is served by three main Interstates, I-29, I-35 and I-70. The I-670 is part of the small center ring. I-635 bypasses downtown west of it, and I-435 forms the long ring road around the city. I-470 forms an additional bypass on the southeast side of the conurbation. In addition, there are a number of US Highways that have been partially developed as highways, such as US 69 and US 71 from the south and US 50 to the east. US 169 forms the northern exit road. SR-10 in Kansas forms a southwest approach route while SR-152 in Missouri forms an east-west route north of the city.

It is striking that the I-435 largely runs through (still) undeveloped area, especially north of the agglomeration. The Kansas City airport is also located here. Due to the low population density, the longer distances automatically result in a higher number of lane kilometers per inhabitant.

List of freeways

Length first opening last opening max AADT 2012
30 km 1954 1960 80,000
65 km 1954 1971 153,000
17 km 196x 1972 81,000
65 km 1959 1969 111,000
130 km 1954 1987 147,000
27 km 1980 1983 89,000
20 km 1973 1977 80,000
4 km 1968 1991 43,000
12 km 197x 1980 70,000
24 km 1959 1981 80,000
17 km 196x 196x 77,000
23 km 1956 ? 57,000
20 km 1976 1984 57,000
23 km ? ? 48,000


I-70 at Kansas City.

Kansas City is located at the confluence of the Kansas River and the Missouri River, a low-lying area called “the flats”. The center of Kansas City, Missouri, however, is built a little higher, just east of the flats. The center of Kansas City, Kansas is built directly adjacent. In the mid-1800s, Kansas City took over from St. Louis as a gateway to the west. From 1870 in particular, the population increased sharply because of Kansas City’s strategic location as a rail and water hub. By 1930, Kansas City, Missouri, had 400,000 inhabitants, and Kansas City, Kansas, 120,000. This was also relatively close to the peak experienced by both cities in the 1970s. After the Second World War, the region began to strongly suburbanize, especially on the south and east sides of the conurbation.

The first major river bridges in Kansas City were all toll bridges, the first of which were built in the early 20th century, and mostly replaced in the 1950s by more modern bridges. During the 1950’s there were already some highway-like routes, that is, US Routes that had grade-separated intersections here and there. The metropolitan area’s first full-fledged highway was the Kansas Turnpike (I-70), which opened in 1954, connecting Kansas City to Topeka and Wichita. In the early 1950s there was no money in either Missouri or Kansas to build toll-free highways, so several major US Routes were built as at-grade 2×2 roads from Kansas City. Well-known examples were the US 40, US 50, US 69 and US 71. Later, some of these routes were upgraded to highways.

The 1955 Kansas City highway plan.

The creation of the Interstate Highway system provided many opportunities for Kansas City. The state of Missouri, in particular, immediately went full throttle with the construction of the highway network, and I-29, I-35 and I-70 were already completed through Kansas City in the early 1960s, as well as in the surrounding area. By 1965, the important link between Kansas City and St. Louis was completed, greatly facilitating east-west traffic. In 1970, I-35 through downtown Kansas City was completed, as well as the portion through suburban Kansas. By 1970, Kansas City had one of the most extensive highway networks in the Midwestern United States.

Construction on the Kansas City Beltway began in 1965, first on the south and east sides, and only in the mid-1980s on the west and north sides. Kansas City was unable to take advantage of the rapid population growth in the southern United States from the 1970s onwards, the population of the city itself actually decreased, and the growth of the metropolitan area fell to a minimum, below the US national average. I-470 was also completed through Lee’s Summit and Independence in the early 1980s, but few highways were built after that.

Unlike some other states, most highway plans in Kansas City have been implemented. There is no significant number of unbuilt highways, as was the case in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. The only highway that was never fully completed was US 71 through southern Kansas City, which still has several traffic lights. Further south it is a through highway.

Kansas City’s limited growth and well-developed road network make it one of the largest conurbations that remains largely traffic-free. With more than 2 million inhabitants, congestion is kept to an absolute minimum, especially after several improvement projects have been carried out more recently. The most critical point is the complex and somewhat substandard Downtown Loop, a two-mile short beltway where I-35, I-70 and I-670 converge, including all through traffic, especially heavy freight, as both the I-35 as I-70 are the major transportation corridors in the central United States. Some highways are clearly future-oriented, especially in the north of the city, where there is significant overcapacity.

Between 2012 and 2017, significant investment was made in the highway network on the Kansas side, especially in the suburbs of Lenexa and Overland Park, where the beltway was widened and the interchanges with I-35, K-10 and US 69 were reconstructed under the large ‘Johnson County Gateway’ project. During the same period, the highway network on the Missouri side was modernized in some areas, most notably by replacing bridges.


I-70 at Kansas City, Missouri.

Kansas City is the least congested major conurbation in the United States. Congestion is often the result of road works and incidents, and rarely due to a shortage of capacity, although the high exit density around the center in particular can cause delays. In 2013, the Kansas City metropolitan area had the least congestion of all major U.S. cities. Public transportation in Kansas City consists of buses, a subway or light rail have been rejected by voters in the past. The car is therefore the only serious transport option. The intensities on the highways are nevertheless quite low. The highest traffic volumes are achieved on the I-35 in Kansas with barely 150,000 vehicles per day. In addition, there is still quite a lot of traffic on southern I-435 around Overland Park with 138,000 vehicles. The intensities around the center are below 100,000, which is also due to the number of routes around the center.

Kansas City, Missouri