Historic Merriam Road dates to 1871, about to get makeover

Farley Avenue between 67th and 69th Streets.
Farley Avenue between 67th and 69th Streets.

A Merriam street that marks its historic origins back to 1871 is about to get a makeover.

The section of Farley Avenue that runs from 67th to 69th Street in Merriam is one of the most unusual streets in northeast Johnson County because of its country road feel while being surrounded by typical suburban housing and commercial property. It also is unusual for the fact that the narrow street carried more than 700 cars per day before it was turned to one-way in 2012 because of safety concerns.

The road was platted in 1871 as part of the Kansas City Road, the highway from Olathe to Kansas City. The city has copies of the original, hand-written dedication for the road. Heavily wooded, the street only has four mailboxes in the two-block stretch says State Representative Jarrod Ousley, one of the residents who lives along the street.

Ousley says the neighbors have some concerns about the pending rebuild of the street, mostly they want to preserve the unique character of the neighborhood, he says.

The city council approved a contract for design of a street rebuild earlier this month. In 2011 a feasibility study was completed on the street that gave three options for a rebuild. The street actually dropped, which made it unsafe for two-way traffic, Mayor Ken Sissom told the council. “This is not going to be an easy project,” he said. “It has just been overplayed continuously.” The road also has difficult terrain.

Even with its few residents, the street moved a lot of traffic from adjoining neighborhoods. The street makes a connection to 67th and is close to I-35.

City Administrator Phil Lammers said the shoulders on the narrow road fell. “It is falling apart at the seams,” he said. The most recent proposal would add curb and one-side sidewalk to a 24-foot wide road that would be tw0-way again. The street is now 20-feet wide. Lammers says the design process will include neighborhood meetings to hear from residents and review the plans.

“My main concern is that we move forward together,” Ousley says. Actual construction is more than a year away.