Parks officials hope to close the ‘Greenwood gap’

rpulley@lsjournal.comOctober 5, 2016 

This overpass over Third Street, near Charles David Hartman Memorial Park, could be part of a route for bicycle trail through Lee’s Summit.

RUSS PULLEY — rpulley@lsjournal.com

The bicycle and walking trail to be built on the Rock Island Railroad corridor in Jackson County could stop short of running through Lee’s Summit, county and parks officials said. That leaves the parks department looking for ways to bring bike trails into the city.

“We’d like to find a way to bring the Katy Trail to Lee’s Summit,” said Tom Lovell, Lee’s Summit parks administrator.

The board last week hired Vireo Inc. to do a $15,000 study on ways to connect with the Rock Island Trail Park in Pleasant Hill. That trail stretches to Windsor, where bicyclists can switch to the Katy Trail.

The parks department recently stalled a plan to add a trail head in Charles David Hartman Memorial Park because construction of a trail by the Rock Island Corridor Authority may not reach that far. The parks department wanted to provide access at the Charles David Hartman park to a section of the Rock Island Railroad corridor that was purchased by Jackson County and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority for $59 million. That section starts at Truman Sports Complex and ends in south Lee’s Summit, just past Hamblen Road. Along with possibilities for mass transportation, the route was hailed as an eventual link to the Katy Trail.

During the purchase, little was said by county officials about bridging a gap from Lee’s Summit through Greenwood, and rural Jackson and Cass counties to Pleasant Hill. The Vireo study will analyze the “gap” and come up with off- and on-road routes.

Lovell said discussions with county officials indicated that the trail in Jackson County’s corridor won’t span the full 17.7 miles to Hamblen Road before the project runs out of funds. He said the trail could reach north Lee’s Summit before the project runs out of money. County officials have said they intend to have a trail head at the Paragon Star retail and soccer complex at View High Drive and Intestate 470.

Officials with the county’s Rock Island Rock Island Rail Corridor Authority confirmed the $12.5 million it received in grants could fall short, though they will remain uncertain until surveys, engineering and cost estimates are complete.

The county intends to build the trail to the end of the corridor it purchased, completing as much as possible with the grant money, said Matt Davis, project coordinator for the Rock Island Rail Corridor Authority. He said it will work with community partners to push the trail further to completion and to find other funds if necessary.

Crews are doing boundary and topographical surveys now to learn what changes have taken place over the last 40 years. The surveys also will be used by engineers to design the trail in Jackson County, with a dual use of rail transportation in the future.

Lovell said closing the gap to Pleasant Hill will need to include Greenwood, Jackson and Cass counties, and state agencies like the Missouri Department of Conservation and Missouri Department of Transportation will likely need to be involved.

He said there may not be a dedicated off-road trail from Lee’s Summit to Pleasant Hill, but the route could be completed using paved shoulders on public roads in some sections.

One possible route would use Ranson Road to Greenwood. That route has an added opportunity because it turns into Todd George Parkway north of U.S. 50, sections of which already have a multi-use trail, and reaches to other roads in north Lee’s Summit and Independence, providing access to Jackson County’s Little Blue Trace Trail.

“Wouldn’t it be great to be able to get on a bike in Independence and ride to St. Louis?” Lovell said.

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