Planners get input on ideas to improve access to revitalized 47th Street corridor in Westwood, Roeland Park

Dozens of people participated in Tuesday's input session on the future of the 47th Street corridor.
Dozens of people participated in Tuesday’s input session on the future of the 47th Street corridor.

Over the past few years, the stretch of 47th Street between Rainbow Blvd. and Mission Road has seen a wave of investment.

From the Woodside Village project across from Westwood City Hall at the corridor’s east end, to the revamped NorthWood Shopping Center with popular restaurants Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken and 1889 Pizza Napoletana as anchors, to the Walmart Neighborhood Market and Taco Republic on the west end, the street now boasts a host of attractions for neighborhood residents.

But actually getting to those businesses can be tricky.

With four lanes of busy traffic, sidewalks directly abutting the road much of the way, and limited pedestrian crossings, it’s intimidating for many people who live in the area to actually get to the new businesses.

“They’re excited about the activity on the street. The new investment, the new restaurants, that type of thing,” said Thomas Morefield, a planner with BikeWalkKC who has helped examine ways to improve the area as part of an eight-month long study. ” But it can be challenging to walk around on the street. It can be a little scary to cross the street.”

On Tuesday, Morefield and other members of the BikeWalkKC team presented a series of design concepts that would improve bike and pedestrian access along the 47th Street corridor.

They include protected pedestrian crossings between Mission and Rainbow, and a road-diet that would take the street down from four lanes of traffic to three, freeing up space for improved pedestrian or cyclist infrastructure.

Here, for example, are two of the renderings of the potential 47th Street streetscape presented at Tuesday’s input open house:

Road_diet_1

Bike_Set_off

With the input the consultants gathered Tuesday and via other channels, they’ll be putting together a set of recommendations that will go back to the 47th Street planning committee, which includes representatives from Westwood, Kansas City, Kan., and Roeland Park, which all border the street.

“Basically what we want to do is to create a shared template, where all the cities say, ‘If we’re going to do something, this is what we want,'” Morefield said.

After that, though, the three cities would have to coordinate closely on a plan, budget and schedule if any changes are to be made.

“Our specific project will wrap up in the next couple months,” said Morefield. “From there, it’s in the committee’s hands.”