127th Street Widening

Olathe, KS is getting ready to widen 127th Street, which has a new overpass over I-35. The overpass is a great way to cross the highway without traversing an intersection, but safe bike routes to/from the overpass are still needed. There is some federal money available to fund bike lanes on the widened road, but pressure from cyclists is needed to ensure that the facilities actually get built.

Public Meeting:
Thursday, November 7, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Indian Creek Library, 12990 Black Bob Road, Olathe, KS

www.improve127th.com

From: Dale Crawford, JCBC Advocacy Chair

Now that the new 127th Street Overpass is open, we need safe bicycling roads to get to it. Here’s your opportunity to make it happen.

The City of Olathe is holding an informational meeting regarding reconstruction of 2 miles of 127th Street east of the new overpass. Initial plans include bike lane being provided because a Transportation Enhancement award, but we have seen how quickly bike lanes can get cut in the name of “value engineering” (cost cutting) as projects get closer to construction and during the critical land acquisition phases. SEE CITY OF OLATHE PRESS RELEASE BELOW!

Yes, these bike lanes are recommended in the DRAFT Bicycle Transportation Plan, but that plan is not adopted. Its just paper until its adopted. SO….

JCBC needs as many cyclists as possible to attend this informational meeting to express the need and demonstrate support for the bike lanes on 127th Street from Mur-Len (east end of the new overpass) east to Pflumm Road (Olathe-OP city limits). A strong show of support for bike lanes, bicyclists right to the road and the safe design of all roadway users will increase the protect the bike lanes through the lengthy design process and many difficult decisions this project with encounter. If adjacent residents along this stretch of road are like those at other public meetings, they may want the bike lanes removed so the road can be narrowed regardless of its impact on our safety.

If you can’t make it, email lmockry@olatheks.org, project manager or use the project web site form, http://www.improve127th.com/feedback_form.html, stating you want bike lanes on 127th Street so you can safely get to the overpass to cross I-35. Please copy me at advocacy@jcbikeclub.org so I can have a record of the comments received.

Here are a few tips to include, but I strongly encourage you to personalize as it may pertain to you and how you are or will be able to use 127th Street.

- 127th Street will is a great way for bicyclists to cross I-35 without the traffic associated with a full interchange. But bicyclists must be able to safely get to the overpass to use it. Bike lanes will provide the safety.

- 127th Street fills a 4-mile gap between College Boulevard and Dennis Avenue to travel east-west through Olathe for bicyclists and reduces some trips for bicyclists as much as 4 miles to safely cross I-35. Consequently with the new overpass, this corridor will see many more bicyclists after the road is improved. Bike lanes will provide the adequate safety needed to accommodate these bicyclists along with the increased traffic.

- Bike lanes will provide a safer way to junior high and high school students to go to school at Pioneer Trail Junior and Olathe East High Schools and to Frontier Pool, all of which are along 127th Street. Providing safe routes for children to get to school and to area parks besides in a car decrease traffic and improves the health of our youth.

- Federal funds have been awarded specifically for the bike lanes reducing the city’s cost to build them.

I hope to see many of you at the meeting on March, 8, 7-9 PM, Indian Creek Library. But if you can’t make, please do email. Ever message helps JCBC’s efforts to improve the safety of bicycling in and around Johnson County.

Dale Crawford

JCBC Advocacy Chair

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9 Responses to 127th Street Widening

  1. JC Burcham says:

    I can’t make it to the meeting tonight, but I sent an email!

  2. Noah says:

    The meeting was PACKED! Thanks for all the cyclists who showed up!

    It didn’t last very long, and the residents who live along 127th might as well have brought their pitchforks. It got pretty hot in the kitchen, which seems to be why they quit taking comments and questions so early on.

    Good things were said about the bike lanes, and no one argued against them. Matter of fact, I think that was the only really positive comment coming out of the whole thing.

  3. Bill Champion says:

    I am sorry but I do not share your excitement for these bike lanes. My guess is your property will not be affected by this. If you want to ride your bikes there are already bike trails to use. If you want to ride on the west side of the highway, why dont you just unload your bike on that side and ride.
    As you know the city is interested in 120feet of right of way—this will bring the fence,sidewalk,bike lane and road to about 30 feet from my house. Sorry,but I dont feel I should make a sacrifice to help your cause–hopefully you can understand that.

  4. Alison says:

    While I understand professional cyclists might benefit from additional bike lanes in Olathe, I strongly disagree that an on-street bike lane to a major arterial road will be a safe place for children to travel.

    I sincerely hope the city is able to find common ground to appease both impacted home owners (like myself) and biking enthusiasts. I personally would like to see expansion of current trail systems over more on-street bike lanes, but I understand my opinion is but one voice.

  5. Andrew says:

    I too am one of the “impacted” homeowners living on the 127th street corridor. Alison is right, there has to be some kind of balancing of the needs of the city and the needs of the homeowners. I would also echo Bill’s concern that the current plans are just way too intrusive.

    I think the city has to be honest with itself and the homeowners and come to grips with the fact that 100% continuity between Overland Park and Olathe does not mesh with reality.

    I understand why the city feels that bike lanes are critical to getting to that Overland Park keeping-up-with-the-Joneses goal. Construction of the bike lanes inherently requires modifications to the existing infrastructure. That’s very expensive work. That same very expensive work has to be done to widen and beautify the existing roadway. So, by doing the bike lanes with federal money, the city figures it can do the rest of the work on the cheap.

    I don’t suppose we could get the biking community to agree in a public forum that even with the bike lanes, the other items on the city’s agenda are too extravagent and intrusive? I think we can get the bike lanes, 4 lanes of traffic, and a turning lane into a space that balances traffic, bikers, and homeowners.

  6. Gary Hubert says:

    I am both an affected homeowner and a commuting bike rider. I am not a “sport” rider so I may not understand your needs as bicyclists compared to mine. My priorities are first exercise, second to save gas money, third to do my part to reduce dependency on certain countries’ oil. I average 650 miles a year. I am sure no one from the affected houses would object to bike lanes if they, along with the proposed widening did not consume a substantial amount of their property greatly reduce their quality of life and their financial investment in their homes. I have owned the home for 16 years and am saddened as I watch the last holdout of farmland I enjoyed pedaling by being dug up in the name of improvement.

    Do you feel safer with an un-striped extra 4’ of pavement with your back to 45 to 50 MPH major arterial traffic, or with 35 to 40MPH residential road and no bike lane? If you prefer the major road then lobby for bike lanes on 119th street to get you across I-35. When they complete both phases of this project and people can zip from Overland Park through Olathe with just a couple traffic signals stopping them, bike lanes or not you or any of the kids wanting to go to the pool or the schools will be safe.

    Even I can only ride due to weather from March until about Thanksgiving. I have to sleep every night. This project means an entire neighborhood will not be able to open their windows at night and sleep with a cool breeze. That’s a high price to pay for saving others 10 minutes a day. Hopefully you will understand why the pitchforks will be in hand.

  7. As a taxpaying Olathe resident AND a cyclist, I am stuck in the middle of this discussion.

    I understand the plight of the homeowner who does not want to lose trees, stare at a noise barrier, and would still like to retain SOME of their yard.

    I also understand the desires of the cyclists who are desperately trying to create a safe environment for people to cycle to work without risking their lives.

    I’m afraid that no one is going to win in this situation. I fear there will be so many compromises made, that the solution will not fully entirely satisfy the requirements of the project. We are walking a delicate knife edge in trying to listen to everyone.. and we all know that it is impossible to actually PLEASE everyone.

    This is what I’m afraid is going to happen:

    The houses will be right next to a really busy street, decreasing their property value. They will gain noise, and lose value and yard. The property owners, no matter how much they fight, will have a decreased quality of life.
    The road may not be widened enough to accommodate the FUTURE traffic due to landowners complaining about loss of land. Will it be wide enough in 2010? It may not be. Some drivers are currently avoiding it because it’s a congested route. If we think it’s busy now… just wait.
    The road, not being wide enough, will then become hazardous.
    Gas prices may continue to rise, forcing some people to ride their bikes to work, increasing the congestion and narrowing" of the road. 127th street is the only real safe way to cross I-35 by bike – thus most the east bound bike commuters in the area are going to be "funneled" down that road in their commute to work. It’s too dangerous to cross at 119th or 135th without taking your life in your hands.
    Then, in discovering that the road isn’t widened enough, the city will then have egg on it’s face, and will have to initiate ANOTHER widening project…. taking the peoples homes this time, but now at the new "reduced" market value.

    I’m really afraid that everyone will suffer if try to please everyone. The property owners will be upset, the motorists will not have traffic needs met, and the needs of the growing number of people who don’t want to pay 3 bucks a gallon will be in harms way.

    The reality is this… if we don’t take peoples yards, then the road will continue to not be wide enough to accommodate the necessary traffic. The area is going to continue to grow, so traffic will be significantly greater in the next few years. If the current residents think it’s noisy now… just wait. Once it is widened, the traffic will then the be much greater than it is now… but within a few feet of the residents homes.

    If the city doesn’t make the "hard call" and think ahead to the future, then we are all going to suffer. We need to do it right the first time, or not at all. Give the landowners fair market value for their homes, and money to move. The number of landowners affected by this are really a small "special interest group" in the grand scheme of things. Tear the houses down, and widen the street correctly. The biggest complaint the landowners have is concerning their property value, so give them what it is currently worth BEFORE they lose value, and pay for their moving expenses. They may end up losing their homes in the end anyway, so give them the market value NOW before the widening reduces their property value.

    The road will be widened correctly that with handle the increased traffic AND with bike lanes so we will not create a nightmare that will be revisited as a mistake for years to come. Once the landowners have been moved, you will hear no more complaining. But if we don’t widen the road correctly, there will be "issues" for years to come.

    If we don’t widen it correctly, then BLOCK OFF 127th street and turn it into a PARK from S Edinburge Street to S Raintree Drive. That will INCREASE everyone’s property values, give the landowners peace and quiet, and give the cyclists a way to get to the Indian Creek trail without hazard, and make it safe for the kids in the area. Black Bob would then be the only entrance to the Middle School and Frontier Park.. making it a haven for kids and families. I’m sure it won’t hurt the everyones achilles tendon to press on the accelerator and drive around.

  8. Mary Lou Gallagher says:

    Hi, I agree with all that is being said about the widening of 127th. I do not agree, however, with the process by which the city is working with homeowners. Also, please everyone know that in some cases, HOMES will have to be taken in order to do the minimum widening, 4 lanes, turning tanes, sidewalks. The street between Blackbob and Pflumn is 37 feet wide. The minimum needed by the city is said to be 120 feet.

    According to Kathleen Huttman (last city council meeting), the city envisions “a straight road laid out, but maybe shoud consider a curved road.” If the road is laid out straight, and 41.5 feet is taken from both sides, where does that put some of the homes which sit within 40 to 50 feet of the road at present. We are not a stupid bunch. All we ask is that the city, which upgraded this project to a major artery in yr2,000 stop scripting what is said so that those of us who are going to be severely impacted can go on with our lives.

    I have a mortgage, & a family to consider. I am also a realtor who sells in that corridor. By law I must disclose the changes that are expected to occur. If I do not disclose those changes, I can be sued and lose my license and livelihood. At the council meeting I met several couples who purchased homes in the corridor within the year. They are to be affected by the changes, but the changes were not disclosed to them. This all adds to the homeowners’ anger and anxiety. We are all left hanging while the city plays with our tax dollars. The city insists that they have no “plan.” If there is no “plan,” how did they apply for a federal grant? How do they know how many minimum feet they need for widening? How did they know to shade certain homes along the corridor in gray, but not all of the homes? (Five are shaded in The Villas of Forest Creek). We can’t sell, improve, or refinance. All we ask for is the truth.

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