A few new bike and hike trails are popping up in Johnson County.
In Overland Park, construction has already begun on a new $1.3 million trail on the bluffs overlooking Interstate 35 and Turkey Creek. Construction is expected to be done by the fall.
“It’s definitely going to be very serene and have scenic views,” said Justin Nickel, project manager. “I think it will be beneficial to this area, because sometimes people use these trails to bike to the store or to work.”
The 10-foot-wide asphalt path eventually may connect with a trail in Mission.
The northeast Johnson County city is in the process of applying for federal funding to expand the Turkey Creek Trail from Overland Park all the way to the Kansas City, Kan., city limit, said Christy Humerickhouse, parks and recreation director for Mission.
In addition to the Turkey Creek Trail, Overland Park is constructing a new bike and hike path along the east side of Metcalf, from 110th Street north to 87th Street, which will connect to the Indian Creek bike and hike trail. The Indian Creek Trail connects to Olathe, Leawood and on to Kansas City, Mo. Construction on that project is set to end in June.
In Shawnee, construction on the third phase of the Clear Creek Trail is under way. It will start at Woodland Drive and extend east to the Gary L. Haller Trail, using a bridge over Clear Creek.
The trail will feature amenities such as native stone trailheads, benches, informational kiosk, water station and a bicycle repair station.
The city’s website says the trail should be constructed by June 1.
The progress in bike and hike trails in each city pleases Cliff Middleton, planning and development manager for the Johnson County Park and Recreation District.
He wants to see the trails eventually cross city, county and state lines.
For example, the goal for the Turkey Creek Trail is for it to eventually reach downtown Kansas City, he said.
“We want each trail to be linked beyond the borders of Johnson County,” he said. “We’ve had great progress in that direction in the past twenty years.”
But, he added, things have slowed down in recent years.
“Now, we’re struggling with the amount of funding being given out,” Middleton said. “You have so many projects going after limited dollars, which means the number of miles constructed has slowed down. We really hope that changes as the economy improves.”
In the meantime, he’s just happy so many people in the Kansas City area take advantage of the bike and hike trails provided in Johnson County.
And, he pointed out, the Mid-America Regional Council just published a new trail and bikeway map that is available on the Internet and is easily accessible from smartphones.