THURSDAY, MARCH 8, 2018
A giant step forward was taken this morning as Jackson County and the Kansas City Area Transit Authority broke ground on the first phase of the Rock Island Shared Use Path.
According to County Executive, Frank White, Jr., the new trail will eventually connect to the Katy Trail allowing people to bike or hike across the state from Kansas City to St. Louis.
“This project will transform a portion of the Rock Island Rail Corridor into a premiere hiking and biking trail that Jackson County citizens can enjoy for generations to come,” he said. “Think about all of the exploring, relationships and economic development that can come from that.”
White closed his remarks by thanking elected officials, the city of Lee’s Summit and Mayor Randy Rhoads for their hard work and for being a partner in hosting the groundbreaking. KCATA, Radmacher Brothers Excavation, MoDOT, TranSystems, Burns and McDonnell, Jackson County Public Works and Josh Boehm and Matt Davis of the Rock Island Rail Corridor Authority for their tireless work.
Theresa Galvin, the 6th District Legislator, expanded on the county executive’s remarks and said the trail will also eventually connect to The Little Blue Trace Trail, Lee’s Summit Trails, and Bikeway system, KC’s Brush Creek and Blue River Trails and Three Trails National Historic Route. Making this shared use path a regional partnership.“This is just the first step in truly connecting Jackson County to other cities and counties throughout Missouri and making our community a sought-after destination for families and business,” she said.
According to Galvin, the development of the shared use path will create a boost in property values. “Trails are one of the most sought-after amenities for potential home buyers. Research shows that trails can add a premium to single-family residential properties of between four and 11 percent. Trails support the economy and bicycle tourism has a real economic benefit.”
“I know my family and I already use many of the trails and parks in Jackson County and look forward to utilizing the Rock Island once it is completed,” she said.
The Rock Island corridor was identified nearly two decades ago as an ideal bicycle and pedestrian connection to the KATY Trail, and as a commuter corridor linking eastern and southern Jackson County with Downtown Kansas City.
Matt Davis, Rock Island Authority program coordinator, said the corridor its self is over 100 years old, and by purchasing this corridor Jackson County has ensured it will be a community asset for the next 100 years or more. The northern end of the shared use path will connect into the Truman sports complex and run 14 miles south and east to the intersection of Jefferson and Scherer road in southern Lee’s Summit.
“The path will connect many vibrant, historic and interesting areas of our County including the Stadium Complex, Downtown Raytown, 350 and Noland Road, The Vale Tunnel (a 460-foot tunnel under bannister road), and the city of Lee’s Summit,” he said.
“Here at Jackson County, and at the Rock Island Rail Corridor Authority, we are proud to bring an amenity such as this to our community. We believe the presence of trails such as this have a profound impact on community health and our economy, and that it makes Jackson County a great place to call home,” Davis said.
The first 6.4 miles of construction of the path stretches from Jefferson Street, west of MO-291 in Lee’s Summit, to Brickyard Road, south of Blue Parkway in Kansas City. Radmacher Brothers Excavation Company, Inc., contractor for the first phase of the construction, has already begun clearing the corridor of trees and debris. The first phase is expected to be complete later this year.
In addition to a new surface for walking and biking, the construction project will involve the rehabilitation and retrofit of existing rail bridges at 3rd Street, Chipman Road, the Little Blue River and the old Vale Tunnel below Bannister Road.
The next phase of construction will stretch 6.9 miles from Brickyard Road to the vicinity of the Truman Sports Complex. Work is expected to begin this summer with an anticipated completion date in 2020.Meanwhile, Jackson County officials are working with their partners in Kansas City, Raytown, Lee’s Summit, Greenwood, Pleasant Hill and Independence to plan and build other trail connections to the Rock Island Corridor, including an eventual connection to the Katy Trail State Park.
Jackson County acquired the 17.7-mile Rock Island Railroad Corridor in May 2016, in partnership with the KCATA to preserve the corridor for future generations.