"It's an extraordinary thing, I will admit, to have [U.S. Sen.] Jesse Helms to throw a lunch for you. You know it's bad for both of our images."
Filming of Music Video Will Shut Down I-670 Downtown for Several Hours Tuesday
Is it a good idea to close much of Kansas City's downtown Interstate network to film a music video?
The Kansas City Star,
May 20, 1997
[@U2 note: the video in question is "Last Night on Earth," not "Do You Feel Loved."]
If you, too, are stuck in traffic this morning, the reason is U2.
The downtown freeway system in Kansas City will be closed for several hours today because the rock band is shooting a music video, "Do You Feel Loved."
Just why was one of the busiest stretches of interstate in a metropolitan area chosen? Apparently because U2, which performed Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium, fancies the Kansas City skyline as a backdrop.
A U2 spokesman confirmed that the band was filming footage for its latest video but declined to release details.
State officials estimate that more than 100,000 cars a day travel along stretches of the freeway that will be closed just as the morning commute is winding down.
The announcement stunned people interested in highway issues.
"I can't believe the stupidity of it," said Mike Right, vice president of public affairs for the AAA Auto Club of Missouri. "They're going to close down an interstate highway that serves downtown Kansas City for a...music video? I've never heard of such a thing."
City officials didn't reveal many details. In a short press release Monday afternoon, the city said only that the closing was necessary to accommodate "a production crew who will be filming in the area."
City officials said that there would be three big traffic disruptions and that motorists should follow detour signs:
Interstate 670, a short east-west artery in the downtown loop, will be closed from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Interstate 35 on the southwest corner of the loop also will be blocked periodically during those hours.
Traffic on Broadway and Truman Road could be stopped for some of that time as well, although it was not known exactly when.
Plans call for detouring some traffic over the Lewis and Clark Viaduct. Other possible alternate routes for people heading downtown:
If northbound from Johnson County, exit on West Pennway or 12th Street.
If southbound, take the north loop and any downtown exit off Interstate 70.
Eastbound traffic will be diverted onto I-70. Westbound traffic will be forced to exit off I-670 at McGee Street.
Missouri Highway and Transportation Department traffic signs broadcasting on the 1610 AM frequency late Monday warned motorists to expect congestion between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. today. The broadcast said I-670 would be closed from the Kansas state line to I-70 east of downtown.
Kansas City police spokesman Sgt. David Bosworth said the closures from 9:30 a.m. until about noon would be on I-670, the south downtown loop from Genessee Street to I-70.
Bosworth said there would be periodic interruptions on northbound and southbound I-35 where it crosses 670. There also will be closings on Broadway between 14th and 10th streets, but Bosworth said the disruptions should be over before 2 p.m.
"It won't start until after the morning rush hour, and (it) ends long before the afternoon rush hour," he said.
Bosworth said U2 would pay for traffic control and security provided by the Police Department. He had no estimate of the costs.
Permission to close the highway was granted in a Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission permit dated May 17 and signed by the state's district highway engineer and Kansas City Assistant City Manager Ed Wolf, who is director of public works.
The site was considered ideal for "a filmmaking venture that will enhance and promote the notoriety of...Kansas City's skyline," according to the state permit.
Wolf said the highway closings were a last-minute deal.
"I think they just got details of this worked out this afternoon," Wolf said. "The idea just came up last week."
Mayor Emanuel Cleaver could not be reached Monday for comment. Patti Watkins, director of the Kansas City Film Office, also could not be reached. The band's publicist, Brian O'Neal, did not return phone calls.
Despite the possibility for traffic problems, almost no advance word was provided to the public. The closings were announced about 4:30 p.m. Monday, and little information about alternate routes was provided.
More traffic woes may be coming.
Promoters of the video were seeking permission to close a six-block stretch of Baltimore Avenue from Ninth Street to Truman Road on Wednesday, but no decision on that had been made.
Staff writers Timothy Finn and Melissa Berg contributed to this article.
© 1997 Kansas City Star. All rights reserved.