On Dec. 12, local officials joined District Engineer Dan Niec and others from the Missouri Department of Transportation to celebrate the changeover of U.S. 71 to Interstate 49. At a news conference held at the intersection of I-49/U.S. 71 and U.S. 150, elected officials from jurisdictions along the highway talked about the potential for economic development that a new interstate brings to their communities. Following the north-south route of the highway through Jackson and Cass Counties: Councilman John Sharp, Kansas City, Mo.; Mayor Steve Dennis, Grandview; Mayor Jimmie Odom, Belton; Mayor Peter Kerckhoff, Raymore; Mayor Ernest Jungmeyer, Peculiar; Mayor Kevin Wood, Harrisonville; Mayor Les Whiteside, Archie; and State Senator David Pearce spoke during the news conference.
“Dreams really do come true,” said Missouri Highway and Transportation Commissioner Stephen Miller, noting that the conversion to I-49 was the culmination of years of planning. He also recognized the investments made by each city to bring the highway up to interstate standards.