Visitors to Johnson County’s biggest public park may notice a key stretch of road closed.
John Barkley Drive, which goes over the dam at Shawnee Mission Lake inside Shawnee Mission Park, is closed for the next few weeks, as crews make several changes to improve safety along the roadway.
The road is closed from the north end of the dam where it intersects with 79th Street to a point just south of the dam, up a hill near the entrance to Park Shelter #8 and a playground area.
That means park guests won’t be able to make a full driving loop around Shawnee Mission Park for the time being.
The closure also means bicyclists and pedestrians won’t be able to cross the dam, either.
The closure is in connection with a project at the south end of the road, Johnson County Parks and Recreation District Project Manager Bill Leek said.
Leek said the project will open up lines of sight and add paved shoulders as a way to address some of the road’s safety issues.
The road was constructed along with the dam in the 1960s, but it doesn’t work well for today’s purposes and has had trouble accommodating the increase in the number of visitors to the park, he said.
“It’s a safety issue when it comes right down to it,” Leek said. “It’s mainly for improving safety for all road users: motor vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians.”
The dam road project will result in the following, Leek said:
- JCPRD will reconstruct about 500 feet of road at the south end of the dam, where there’s a steep, sharp curve, which is aimed at opening up better lines of sight for drivers.
- Six-feet wide paved shoulders will be added to each side of that section of the road, as well.
- A walkway connection will be created from the new shoulder on the lakeside of the road that goes down to the lake shore, Leek said. It won’t be very accessible since it will still be steep, but people can use it, he said.
- Another section of walkway will be added to connect to the entrance for Shelter #8 that will go from the new shoulder to a restroom nearby.
Although JCPRD knows the road closure is an inconvenience, Leek said the public’s understanding is appreciated.
“We are doing this for the betterment of park users, and appreciate their patience,” Leek said.
The project, weather permitting, should be completed by the end of August, Leek said.