Bad timing and miscommunication have created a troubled start for trees along the new multi-use 152 Trail in Platte County.
Earlier this summer, a 3-mile section of the trail that runs parallel to Missouri 152 opened between Ambassador Drive and Line Creek Parkway. While bikers, hikers, runners and walkers can now enjoy the stretch of pavement, finishing touches to the project are still in the works.
Hundreds of new trees were planted along the trail near the end of June as a supplement to the greenery that already grew in the area. That was not the ideal time for installation. Now, many of the varieties of oak, maple, bald cypress and linden trees are showing distress or look dead.
A landscaper installed the trees after getting final specs from Kansas City planners on placement. Both the contractor in charge of the project, National Streetscape of Blue Springs, and the city thought the trees wouldn’t be planted until fall.
National Streetscape owner Ed Childs said, “It was a shock to everybody other than the landscaper that they were going in.”
The landscaper is taking extra steps to try to keep the trees alive by watering on a regular basis, but Kansas City’s manager of capital planning, Wes Minder, said the situation isn’t acceptable. “The city won’t pay for them until there are trees that will grow,” Minder said.
Childs said the landscaper has promised to replace any trees that do not survive at no charge. He said the late planting was due in part to a long, cold winter that pushed back the completion of concrete work on the trail.
It will take a few months to find out which trees need to be replaced because some may be in shock rather than dead.
The problem is not expected to increase the project cost. The bulk of the money for this section of the 152 Trail came from a $1 million federal transportation alternative grant. The grant supports projects for multi-use trails suitable for biking or walking. An additional $400,000 for the project came from KCI Corridor TIF money.
Federal grant funding is also in place for a 2015 extension of the 152 Trail east toward Platte Purchase Drive and west toward Congress Avenue. Kansas City has also applied for more federal grants to be able to build the trail to Childress near Tiffany Springs on the west and to Maple Woods Parkway on the east. Minder said the expansion of a trail along Missouri 152 makes sense because it is close to many residential and commercial areas.
“It’s a great connection. Since it’s along a highway, you don’t have a lot of interruptions. You can go along for a long time,” Minder said.
Currently, the 152 Trail runs 3.7 miles from Interstate 29 to Line Creek Parkway. It connects to another recently completed trail corridor, the Line Creek Trail. That trail was developed as a partnership between Kansas City, Riverside and Platte County Parks and Recreation. It runs 8 miles south to the Missouri Riverfront Trail.