A bike and hike trail in Overland Park that has been closed for two years is expected to reopen in June, city officials say.
By JENNIFER BHARGAVA
Special to The Star
The trail, located between College Boulevard and 119th Street, was closed at the U.S. 69 crossing in June 2011 because of bridge construction. A sign indicated that the trail would reopen in March 2012.
Those who frequently use the trail have wondered about its status one year later.
Justin Nickel, a civil engineer senior for Overland Park, said the trail didn’t reopen last year as planned because there was a several-month delay in relocating a gas line.
“When the sign said the trail was going to be open March of last year, it only would have been open for six months and then closed again for bridge construction,” he said. “So basically the delay with the gas line simply closed that gap where the trail was supposed to be open for a short period of time.”
Nickel added the city has high hopes the trail will open on June 1.
“Of course, it depends on the weather, but we’re optimistic,” he said. “When it comes to the bike and hike trails, there are no ways to officially enforce a deadline to open them, like there are for roads.”
One of the Overland Park residents who uses the trail, Jim Warner, said he’s disappointed by the lack of communication.
“I definitely agree the trail should be closed off during the bridge construction, because falling debris and other hazards could injure people,” he said. “I’m just frustrated that it’s been closed for so much longer than indicated and that the city never marked a continuous detour.”
Nickel points out that there is a marked detour, but the signs are farther apart than people realize.
“I’m sympathetic because I know a lot of people use that trail,” he said. “I know our detour can seem confusing because the signs are far apart. But the most I can do now is suggest people either follow the detour or find another route that makes them comfortable.”
In the future, when other highway construction projects force temporary trail closures, he said the city will make an effort to create clearer detours.
Despite the confusion and lapsed time, Warner still loves to use the bike and hike trail system. He considers it one of the treasures of Johnson County.
“I hope that section really does open this spring,” he said. “I use the trails every month of the year. It’s one of my favorite things to do.”