Bruce Rhoades is one of many Kansas Citians who enjoy the Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail, which runs south from the Country Club Plaza to about 85th Street and then east to Prospect Avenue. He pronounces it “an excellent urban trail.”
As far as it goes.
He has noticed signs and barricades that close much of the trail east of Troost Avenue and advise people to take 85th Street instead.
“From what can be seen, it does not appear there is any work on the trail being conducted. Additionally, based on the well-worn paths around said barriers, it appears the trail is passable in the areas between the barriers.”
Rhoades wonders when the barriers are coming down and why they were put there in the first place.
As any dog will tell you, the more you dig, the more you’re likely to find.
And that’s exactly what trail overseers have encountered since late 2010 when a hole was found in the trail east of Troost and south of 85th Street.
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, which maintains the trail, hired consultants and geologists to investigate the hole and repair it.
The repair was made, but the experts were concerned about a larger area of old mines under that part of the trail.
In early 2012, the ATA announced that although a collapse did not seem imminent, the trail would be closed between Troost and Woodland avenues until the situation could be checked out further.
That process continues today.
“We have done multiple analyses of parts of the trail east of Troost,” said ATA spokeswoman Cindy Baker. “Each time we discover more subsurface voids than anticipated.”
It’s taken a long time because the ATA learned that traditional techniques didn’t give an accurate picture of the mines and underground voids. Baker said a different technique proposed by a University of Kansas team was successfully tested this spring in one spot and holds “great promise” for getting an accurate map.
“The other issue that took time to resolve was whether it might make more sense to relocate this stretch of trail … rather than spend a great deal of time and money to repair the trail where it is today,” Baker said.
Eventually, ATA and Kansas City officials concluded that the current location is preferable and it probably would cost as much or more to build a new one elsewhere.
“Once we finish our current investigation,” Baker said, “we will be able to better confirm costs and whether correcting the problem in this location is the best course of action.”
The Watchdog wonders how many bones some of those voids would hold.
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