Mission reviews report recommending $500K in improvements to improve pedestrian access to schools

Tom Worker-Braddock of Olsson Associates detailed the results of a study finding a number of impediments to pedestrians walking to school.
Tom Worker-Braddock of Olsson Associates detailed the results of a study finding a number of impediments to pedestrians walking to school.

Members of the Mission Governing Body on Wednesday got a detailed look at the results of a study that recommends more than $500,000 in infrastructure projects to to improve walkability to the schools attended by Mission kids.

The Safe Routes to School Study, paid for in part through a federal grant, included a detailed analysis of current pedestrian and traffic patterns surrounding the four schools that serve Mission residents: Highlands Elementary, Rushton Elementary, Horizons High School and SM North.

Tom Worker-Braddock of Olsson Associates, which conducted the study, told the council that the company’s evaluation of patterns to the four schools revealed a number of impediments that discourage many from walking and biking. For example, at SM North, there are significant sidewalk gaps on Johnson Drive east of Metcalf, which make pedestrians feel vulnerable to traffic zipping by. At Rushton Elementary, one of the most appealing pedestrian routes to get to school is blocked by a locked gate that forces some students to “re-enact D-Day” by scaling the fence, Worker-Braddock said.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Highlands would benefit from the greatest investment, according to the report, which recommended improvements around the school totaling $233,000. The Highlands community has expressed concerns for years with the lack of safe walking and biking routes to school. Last fall, fourth grader Lola Gravatt made a splash with the council when she outlined a number of the obstacles she and her classmates face when trying to bike to class. The sentiments laid out by Gravatt were echoed in the findings from public input and study sessions, which identified a number of safety concerns for cyclists and pedestrians. The study’s findings from Highlands are summarized in the map from the report below:


To address these issues, Olsson recommends five programming and seven infrastructure improvements. These include a new sidewalk on the west side of Cedar Street from 63rd Street to 61st Terrace and new pedestrian crossings at the “back” entrances along Cedar, among other items. Two of the recommendations for Highlands, a flashing pedestrian crosswalk beacon at Nall Avenue and the reconfiguration of a traffic island at 63rd Terrace and Roe Avenue, would have to be completed by the city of Prairie Village since they lie within its limits.

The council on Wednesday passed a resolution acknowledging the results of the study and discussed next steps, including applying for additional federal grant money to conduct phase two.

You can find the executive summary of the report embedded below: