In late February, a blue Jaguar hopped the curb and smashed into a tree at 73rd Terrace and Mission Road.
No one was seriously injured in the crash. But when 74th Street resident Katie Siengsukon heard about that accident, her heart sank. Siengsukon’s mother, in town to help with her three oldest grandchildren while Siengsukon cared for her newborn, was walking down Mission Road to pick up her granddaughter from St. Ann Catholic School just moments before the Jaguar skidded across the narrow sidewalk on the west side of Mission.
“Literally, if she’d been a minute earlier, the car that left the road — my mom could have been there,” she said.
Now Siengsukon and a group of neighborhood residents are organizing efforts to get the city to make pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly improvements to the stretch of road that they say are long overdue. On Monday, Siengsukon and 74th Street neighbor Mike Riley asked the city council to prioritize a revamp project for Mission Road between 71st and 75th Streets in the city’s 2016 budget. They’ve already had talks with public works and members of the city council about the idea, and say they’ve gotten good support.
“I’ve always been very nervous walking on the sidewalk there, especially walking with my kids, of how close the sidewalk is to Mission Road,” Siengsukon said. “I’ve always felt like, you know, we should do something about this. But the accident is really what triggered it.”
Riley said families whose children walk along the road to get to St. Ann or to SM East don’t feel safe having their kids so close to the traffic. What’s more, he said, a section of the sidewalk that has a retaining wall on its west side compounds the danger.
“There’s no where for them to turn and run if something were coming at them,” he said. “That’s why it’s really safest to let your kid walk up on the wall for that stretch. It’s not a safe deal for families.”
A possible solution, Riley said, is to shift the street from four traffic lanes to three, with a northbound lane, a southbound lane and a turn lane. The space freed up by eliminating a fourth lane for cars could be used to widen the sidewalk and add a bike lane.
Riley and Siengsukon are circulating a petition ahead of next week’s Prairie Village city council work session during which the councilors will discuss budget priorities for the 2016 cycle.