Revamp of Mission Road from 71st to 75th pulled from priority list; comes back to council at next meeting

Traffic zips by the adjacent sidewalk on Mission Road where a retaining wall would make it hard for pedestrians to avoid a vehicle out of control.
Traffic zips by the adjacent sidewalk on Mission Road where a retaining wall would make it hard for pedestrians to avoid a vehicle out of control.

A plan to put the revamp of Mission Road from 71st to 75th Street on Prairie Village’s 2016 construction schedule may not happen after all.

The Prairie Village City Council voted 6-5 one week ago to put make the project a priority after a debate that saw some councilors, and Mayor Laura Wassmer, saying the project was too big to handle in that timeframe. Monday night, after the item showed up on a list of priorities for 2015, the council voted to remove the Mission Road project from the list and hold a new discussion about it at the council meeting in two weeks.

At that time, the city will need to make a decision on which project is submitted for county road assistance funds for the 2016 construction season. County funds will pay up to 50 percent of the construction cost, but once the application is submitted, money can’t be shifted to another project.

The project was placed on the 2015 priority list because planning would need to start now to be able to launch construction next year. The motion to remove it from the priority list passed 7-5. Councilor Ashley Weaver, who voted to make it a priority last week, supported the motion to remove it Monday, saying she agreed that more time is needed. Newly-appointed councilor Sheila Myers also voted to remove it.

A group of Prairie Village parents had organized to get the road revamped because of concerns for pedestrian safety. Sidewalks in that stretch are right against the street and at one point are bordered by a retaining wall.  It is heavily traveled with pedestrian traffic from SM East and St. Ann’s down to the Village Shops.

Councilor Eric Mikkelson has been a strong proponent of moving the project forward. “When we make decisions like this we are making moral choices,” Mikkelson said. He said council members who did not like the outcome from last week saw the opportunity to change the outcome with a new member.

“I believe this is a big issue and deserves a lot of public input,” Wassmer said. “We haven’t heard from a majority of our residents.”

“No one of you is being unreasonable,” Mikkelson said, “but we voted on this.” The meeting one week ago was a council work session and questions were raised Monday about whether that vote would need to be affirmed during a regular council meeting.

Councilor Dan Runion also raised the point that putting the 75th to 83rd Street resurfacing on the 2016 construction schedule, as originally planned, might create a new problem if the city later decides to change the configuration of the connecting section to the north and they do not flow together well. Part of the suggestion to improve the 71st to 75th Street section is to narrow the street to three lanes with a middle turn lane.