Roeland Park has agreed to a concept that would allow traffic to turn onto Roe Avenue from currently undeveloped properties just north of Johnson Drive. The move is seen as a boon to the potential development opportunities for each parcel.
The proposal would align the entrances to the property on both the east and west sides of Roe between Johnson Drive and 57th Street, creating a new intersection that would allow traffic coming out of either site to turn either north or south on Roe. The intersection would not have a signal.
Commerce Bank has purchased the property on the northwest corner of Johnson Drive and Roe and has been in discussion with the city for several months about adding another tenant to the parcel. Commerce has said it does not require the full acreage for its planned branch bank on the site. However, Commerce representatives have told the city council that potential tenants for the site, including Starbucks and Natural Grocers, have walked away from it because of the limited access onto Roe.
Traffic studies done for Commerce had shown that opening an entrance with a left turn north onto Roe was feasible. The city had the traffic projections reviewed by its own consultants who determined that the cuts can be made without a negative impact. One concern initially raised was the possibility of traffic headed south toward Johnson Drive backing up past the entrance to the Commerce site at peak times. That problem can be resolved by signal coordination, the city was told.
The council agreed to the concept of the new intersection with the provision that if safety becomes a concern in the future, it can restrict the access. The council also is discussing cost sharing for the street changes with Commerce.
The change would not only increase the development potential on the Commerce property, but the vacant parcel on the east side of the street would benefit from access to Roe in both directions. That land is partially owned by Roeland Park and partially by Mission. The two cities have agreed to pursue joint development of the property.