Linking Historic Shawnee – Turkey Trail Connection Project
Linking Historic Shawnee – Turkey Trail Connection Project

The Linking Historic Shawnee Project team made a final report to the City Council about connecting downtown Shawnee to the Turkey Creek Trail in Merriam at the council committee meeting on September 6, 2016. The Council has tabled discussion on the trail project for further review in six months (tentatively scheduled for February 2017).

Linking Historic Shawnee Final Report Memo (pdf)
Final Report (pdf)
9/6/16 Council Committee Presentation (pdf)

Background
The Linking Historic Shawnee project was developed with a grant through the Mid-America Regional Council Planning Sustainable Places initiative to study opportunities for improving pedestrian and bicycle connectivity in the area located between Downtown Shawnee and the Turkey Creek Trail area in Merriam.

The project is a follow-up to two prior planning efforts that looked at opportunities to improve site specific place-making, and strengthening connectivity throughout downtown Shawnee. Additionally, the Trail Springs neighborhood located just east of Nieman Road, north of Shawnee Mission Parkway, and south of Johnson Drive identified infrastructure improvements as a priority for enhancing their neighborhood.

Improving connectivity was a primary goal for the project and reviewed during initial meetings and discussions, including the desire to provide a safe route for residents to move throughout the neighborhood and for children to safely access the surrounding schools.


Study Process
A series of three east-west alternatives were initially developed for consideration, including a northern, central, and southern route. These options were presented in meetings with an Advisory Committee and nearby residents in late 2015 and early 2016. This information was also made available online for those not able to attend the meeting.

Based on the initial input received, the northern alignment was preferred. Efforts were undertaken to explore how to incorporate sidewalk and bicycle opportunities through the area. This included a review of the existing conditions along street rights-of-way throughout the neighborhood, street widths, sidewalk infrastructure, locations of visible utilities, trees, locations of driveways, etc.

An off-street trail in this area was initially explored, but ultimately was not considered to be feasible without severely impacting existing trees and utilities. Based on the relatively narrow conditions present in these corridors, another option was explored to modify the City’s existing standard street width. This modified standard included a narrower overall street cross-section, new curbs and storm water drainage, and the provision of a new six foot wide sidewalk on one side of the street adjacent to the back of curb. Bicycle provisions were anticipated to be provided through “share the road” signage along this corridor. Additionally, a new bridge/culvert crossing would be provided in two off-street locations to provide pedestrian and bicycle connectivity.


A focused community engagement event was held on June 29, 2016 along the northern route to share information about the study efforts, and to gather additional input from residents of this corridor. Comment cards were distributed at each stop to obtain additional input from all meeting participants, and additional input was available online for those not able to attend the event. Analysis of the input received through comment cards and online polling indicated approximately half of participants were supportive of these improvements, and approximately half were not supportive. Based on this input, an adjustment was made to the planning team’s remaining work.


Recommendations
The project final report presents concept-level analysis of improving the street infrastructure throughout the neighborhood using a modified street standard as a general guide. The purpose of the analysis is to provide the City with a better understanding of the anticipated costs, related impacts, and benefits associated with making connectivity improvements. The initial northern corridor is recommended as a first phase of a much longer plan for future neighborhood investment. No funding or implementation strategy of any phase of the project has been identified at this time.

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