Prairie Village council approves reduction of Mission Road to 3 lanes from 71st to 75th, addition of quality of life features on new path

A rendering of the new eight-foot path along Mission Road coming south from the Village Shops.
A rendering of the new eight-foot path along Mission Road coming south from the Village Shops.

The Prairie Village City Council on Monday gave unanimous approval to a plan that will bring a “road diet” and a new eight-foot path to the stretch of Mission Road between the Village Shops and SM East.

Prompted by the organized efforts of neighborhood residents who raised concerns about pedestrian safety along the stretch of Mission from 71st Street to 75th Street where dozens of St. Ann Catholic School and SM East students walk each day, the project was moved up on the city’s priority list to 2016 earlier this year.

After a series of community input sessions and work with consultants, the city’s Public Works department recommended a plan that will reduce Mission from four lanes to three from 71st to 75th Streets and will use the majority of the space saved by eliminating the fourth lane on a new eight-foot path on the west side of the street.

Public Works also recommended allocating $150,000 to a series of quality-of-life improvements — benches, seating walls and lampposts — designed to make the path even more appealing to pedestrians and casual cyclists. That plan had drawn criticism from Councilor Andrew Wang, in whose ward the new path would be built. But on Monday, Wang came around on the idea the improvements, voting in favor of the proposal along with all of the other councilors present.

Mayor Laura Wassmer said the path and the quality of life improvements were important “placemaking” efforts for a city that prides itself on having a special feel, and that they would encourage private investment in surrounding homes and businesses.

“Nobody has to be or go anywhere, anymore, that they don’t want to be or go. People choose to go where they like to be. And they like to be in places that look nice…and make you feel good when you are there.” Wassmer said. “We’ve got a main street going right through the center of Prairie Village that right now all it does is transport cars from one end of Prairie Village to the other. We have a chance to really make this something special…that would encourage people to be there.”

Outside of the aesthetic improvements, the project will cost approximately $1 million. The city will receive approximately $500,000 in county assistance for the project through the CARS program. Construction will be completed in 2016.

(Full disclosure, as a neighborhood resident, I spoke in favor of the quality of life improvements during the meeting Monday).