Shawnee city officials have discussed improving the Nieman Road corridor for decades, but a lack of money always stood in the way.
Now, thanks to several funding sources, plans are proceeding to transform Nieman Road in Shawnee from Shawnee Mission Parkwway to 55th Street at a cost of about $6.8 million.
Currently a four-lane road, Nieman Road will become into a three-lane roadway with a center turn lane by the end of 2018. Additionally, a sidewalk and wider trail will be located on opposite sides to improve pedestrian and bicycle access.
The city’s efforts to improve Nieman Road began in 2013 when Shawnee received a grant from the Mid-America Regional Council to help fund the Community Connections-Nieman Road Study.
Residents, business owners and community leaders participated in open houses, surveys and exercises to create the future of the Nieman corridor between Shawnee Mission Parkway and 55th Street.
In early 2015 the city received Transportation Alternatives Program funding from the Kansas Department of Transportation to continue to improve the Nieman Road corridor.
A consulting team was selected to prepare a study and implementation plan for the street and adjacent land uses. The Shawnee City Council approved the final study last month. It was developed by staff from BHC Rhodes, RDG, and Groundswell Consulting.
Last month the council also voted against an $80,000 plan to temporarily re-stripe the street to serve as a test of the proposal. Instead, staff was directed to proceed with preparation for project construction.
City Manager Carol Gonzales said the project goal is make the street a “family-friendly experience that is safe for traffic, pedestrians and cyclists. Our goal is to both support existing businesses and attract new, in-fill projects.”
The project timeline calls for design work to begin in fall 2017 and the project would be completed by summer 2018.
The estimated $6.8 million makeover will be paid for using county funds and city money it receives annually from Deffenbaugh Industries for its landfill operation. The city began receiving this fee in 2012 and currently receives about $3 million annually used for streets and economic development.
One of the project’s main goals is to improve the traffic flow at the intersection of Nieman Road and Johnson Drive. Currently, left turn lanes don’t line up with each other and can’t be timed to turn together. Additionally, the project will simplify access to businesses along the route, Gonzales said.
“We are working with existing businesses to simplify access points and align drives to make traffic flow more smoothly,” she said.
Lighting and streetscaping improvements to beautify the area are included in the project plan.
Additionally, Gonzales said the city is investigating the cost of relocating power lines underground or moving them away from Nieman Road.
“We’re investigating the cost of relocating the lines because if we’re going to improve the area it’s important to do it right,” she said. for removing the poles and placing the lines underground could be an additional $2 million.
The street improvement project is being coordinated with a streamway project designed to improve stormwater drainage along the corridor. Streamway improvements are already underway at the south end of the proposed Nieman Road project.
The four-phase streamway project involves relocating the existing Turkey Creek tributary and providing a trail from 62nd Street and Shawnee Mission Parkway along and across Nieman Road, traveling west to Flint Street.
The trail will improve pedestrian access to Splash Cove, Wonderscope Children’s Museum, Shawnee Town and Herman Laird Park. “Our goal is to connect neighborhoods to both Nieman Road and Flint, which is also slated for improvements,” she said.
During public meetings, many citizens said they currently don’t bike or walk along Nieman Road because they believe sidewalks are too close to traffic, making the roadway unsafe. Having both a sidewalk and a wider trail should improve pedestrian and bicyclist access and safety, Gonzales said.