The Kansas City Budgeted Prioritization Tool, developed by Alta, sheds a light on sidewalk capital improvements to create safer communities.

The City of Kansas City, MO worked with an Alta-led team to evaluate the condition of the sidewalk network and make a plan for investing in safety and connectivity improvements.

The sidewalk investments that are needed the most vary across the city. Additionally, the ways in which Kansas City’s Public Works Division can deliver those improvements varies based on funding programs and staff capacity.

The new, dynamic, and digital Kansas City Sidewalk Prioritization Tool makes it possible for Public Works staff to quickly and efficiently list sidewalk capital improvement projects that reflect the priorities of residents in each Council District, while also meeting the specific requirements and timelines of funding programs that vary in purpose and timeline. The Tool helps Public Works staff decide where to build sidewalks in Kansas City based critical real-world variables that shape capital improvement programs, including:

Budget and Timeline: How much funding is available and when is it available?

Improvement Types: Is the project sidewalk infill (new construction where a gap exists), maintenance (improving an existing segment of sidewalk), or both?

Community Priorities: Which of the priority outcomes already established for Kansas City (such as access, equity, or safety) should be weighted highest based on the funding source?

Council District: Which sidewalk improvements are most important to creating a safe and connected network within a specific Council District?

The tool exists as an easy-to-use web form where users enter parameters and adjust digital sliders to set each of the key variables. The sliders change the tool’s output with a heat map that shows which projects are most important based on the specific criteria provided.

How will we use the Sidewalk Prioritization Tool?

The existing sidewalk network is over 4,000 miles in length. As the City’s public infrastructure has aged, there is a growing need for repair and maintenance. In response to this, the City passed the General Obligation Infrastructure Bond in 2017 which dedicates $5 million towards sidewalk repair and maintenance.

The City’s first task is to address the backlog, which leaders estimate can be addressed by 2025. The Sidewalk Prioritization Tool will allow the City to produce targeted project lists for this next phase of improvements that will be implemented once the backlog repair and maintenance is complete.

The Tool is designed to answer the question, “If we had [an amount of money] to spend, where should we spend it to achieve our goals?” By answering with a map and related charts or graphs that update in real time to illustrate the how preferred projects are selected, the tool can generate a list of projects to be completed in 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years, based on a given yearly budget. Users can create a profile in the tool to save their settings and come back to them later. This data can be downloaded in various formats for easy review and analysis in other software applications. Lastly, the tool can create an embeddable map of the prioritized scenarios that can be shared with the public in a view-only mode.

The Tool helps planners, engineers, and others see how needed improvements, desired community outcomes, and project budgets interact. By setting budget and timeline information, users can see what they can afford, ranging from large, impactful projects to smaller, quick-win projects.

What information does the Sidewalk Prioritization Tool use?

The Sidewalk Prioritization Tool incorporates the results of six different analyses related to Kansas City’s existing sidewalk network and desired community outcomes (such as safety and access) with the results of broad, extensive community input that clarified local concerns and needs.