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Plan to revamp Merriam Drive along I-35 in early stages — how to give input, stay connected

Merriam Drive

There’s plenty of time to provide input on the Merriam Drive Connected Corridor Plan. The cities of Merriam, Mission, Overland Park and Kansas City, Kan., are working on the project

There’s plenty of time to provide input on the Merriam Drive Connected Corridor Plan.

The cities of Merriam, Mission, Overland Park and Kansas City, Kan., are working on the project with the Mid-America Regional Council to transform four miles of Merriam Drive that runs roughly parallel to Interstate 35 from 51st Street to Southwest Boulevard.

Dubbed the Merriam Drive Connected Corridor Plan, the intent is to “assess all transportation modes” and “the development and growth patterns” of the corridor, according to the project website.

Tresa Carter, a community planner who serves as project manager for the plan, said the study is in the early planning stages — and nothing is set in stone.

“We are simply working with community members to establish a vision of what they would like to see along the corridor, but there is no funding or concrete plans in place to do physical roadway changes,” Carter said.

Merriam Drive Connected Corridor open house
During the open house, the public was encouraged to use post-it notes to answer questions about what they’d like to see changed along the four-mile stretch of Merriam Drive.

There’s already been input from a group of stakeholders and the public at a July 28 open house, which prompted attendees to answer questions about their likes, dislikes and concerns with Merriam Drive’s current state.

Some concerns included the busy intersection of Merriam Drive and Antioch Road, bikeability and walkability, trail connectivity and the lack of usable greenspace.

Currently, the Merriam Drive Connected Corridor plan is in the second stage of engagement.

Below is a timeline for gathering feedback, as outlined on the project’s website:

  • From April to July 2021, the planning process was in the ‘discover’ stage “where a baseline of understanding the corridor is developed.”
  • The project will be in the second stage until September, in which the community is able to provide input and ideas.
  • Next, the project will move onto planning and refining for the third stage from August to September. This phase will result in a road map for future development and connectivity.
  • The project will enter a fourth stage in August and September, in which the intent is to have each participating community adopt the plan.
  • Implementation and sustaining the project are the final two phases, occurring in October and beyond, in which the plan would be “put to work.”

Although the second stage is set to end in August, Carter said the project will continue to foster “public engagement until the very end.”

“We are still in the planning phase and it is not too late to provide input,” Carter said. “If there are people who couldn’t participate tonight for some reason, I’d strongly encourage them to follow the process.”

Carter said one of the best ways to stay engaged with the corridor plan is by checking its website, or to go to each city’s website for more information.

The project website will be updated with graphics and documents as the work progresses.

A second open house, complete with recommendations for Merriam Drive, will be held in late fall, Carter said.

Summaries for each open house will be available on the plan’s website.