Northeast Johnson County is at a disadvantage when it comes to natural biking and hiking trails. One reason is that development had already closed off many options before trails became a hot topic. A map of the current trail systems shows that most of the off-street trail system lies to the south and west.
The Turkey Creek Trail, which has been the focus of discussion in both Mission and Roeland Park recently, is part of a bigger plan – MetroGreen – that envisions a a trail system throughout the Kansas City region, connecting urban and rural cooridors. For the cities in northeast Johnson County, that may mean looking at using existing streets as bike routes to make the connections. A draft plan for an inter-connected metro system could be out late this year for review.
Aaron Bartlett, who works on the trail system for the Mid-America Regional Council, said a coordinated plan that involves all the counties and the largest cities is important to making sure it works together. “We don’t want bike lanes to stop at every city limit,” Bartlett said. Currently, 83rd Street is being explored as a connector from Overland Park across Prairie Village and into KCMO.
The Turkey Creek trail, which now runs several miles through Merriam and Overland Park, is rare because it mostly follows a streamway in the northeast. “There is not going to be a lot of opportunity like that,” Bartlett said. “Otherwise, it would have to be on a street.”
The issue now is connecting the existing trail segments with on-street sections that are being added across the county line in Wyandotte. Those sections could follow the streamway, but it is faster to follow Merriam Lane, Bartlett said. In Mission, the abandoned roadbed of the old Kansas City Road was proposed as a route for the trail, Bartlett said, that would then connect to Foxridge Dr. The challenges are getting under I-635, going up a steep grade to get to the roadbed, and then getting across I-35 to Merriam Lane.
Foxridge has some advantages because it has wide traffic lanes that leave plenty of room for the addition of a bike trail, Bartlett said. Once the trail gets under 635 and over to an access road, it is .8 miles to Lamar, a possible crossing. The trail would need to run 1.2 miles (using Foxridge) to reach the north end of the wastewater treatment plant on the Mission-Roeland Park border. To connect from there to Nall Park would require an extension of roughly .12 miles.