Olathe & Southwest Joco

Olathe plans to upgrade busy section of K-7

Olathe City Council members on Tuesday considered preliminary plans to upgrade a mile-long stretch of Kansas 7, also called South Parker Street.
Olathe City Council members on Tuesday considered preliminary plans to upgrade a mile-long stretch of Kansas 7, also called South Parker Street.

The city of Olathe is planning to give Kansas 7 between Santa Fe Street and Old 56 Highway a $5.7 million facelift to improve safety.

City Council members considered preliminary plans for the popular route, also called South Parker Street, on Tuesday.

Celia Duran, deputy director of public works, said the mile-long section carries more than 25,000 vehicles a day and has a crash rate, which combines crash frequency and traffic volume, of 13.8. That is almost three times the average rate for this type of street, she said.

Duran said the improvements also would allow the road to better accommodate traffic growth and manage drivers turning into and out of side streets and businesses.

“K-7 is one of our important corridors that we will continue to see growth in,” she said.

Current plans call for construction of 11-foot-wide medians to prevent drivers from turning across multiple lanes of traffic and the addition of turn lanes at Dennis Avenue, Virginia Lane, Wabash Terrace, Wabash Street, Elm Street, Cedar Street and Loula Street. The city also would add sidewalks on both sides of the street, traffic lights and additional landscaping.

Duran said planners are still designing the medians, which could be a mix of paved and landscaped areas, and will present those ideas at future City Council meetings.

The city plans to begin construction next May with the project being completed in early 2019, she said. Of the $5.7 million price, $2 million is coming from federal dollars.

Council members were largely supportive of the plan although Councilman John Bacon said he was concerned that some of the landscaped medians might be too narrow to properly maintain and water without affecting traffic. He suggested replacing those with paved medians.

“If it’s not wide enough to park a truck, then don’t do it,” Bacon said.

In other business:

▪ The council voted to schedule a public hearing on July 18 to consider creating a community improvement district that would allow collection of a 1-cent sales tax on a section of the Olathe Station shopping center off South Strang Line Road.

The tax is expected to generate $2.4 million to help fund demolition and renovations of several buildings, part of a $25.8 million redevelopment.

▪ Council members tabled a request to dedicate storm water easements on six acres between Mur-Len Road and Lindenwood Drive near Santa Fe Drive until the council’s June 20 meeting to give staff more time to help mediate disagreements between the landowner and a neighboring business over vehicle access to the site from Lindenwood.

The landowner is planning to build a mini-storage complex covering 40,600 square feet on the site.

David Twiddy: dtwiddy913@gmail.com