Streamway trail nears completion
De Soto walkers, bikers, joggers and dog-lovers will soon have a new place to enjoy nature.
Bill Maasen, planning and development manager for the Johnson County Park and Recreation District, said the one-mile long Kill Creek Streamway Park should be finished by the end of September.
The nearly mile-long park will have a paved parking lot at its southern access point off 95th Street, Maasen said. The 10-foot wide pathway will connect to a northern pedestrian-only access point on 87th Street in De Meadows. As the pathway winds northward, it will pass under Kansas Highway 10 and over four tributaries of Kill Creek.
Last Thursday, contractors used a crane to place four bridges over the smaller streams. Workers were back at the bridge sites Tuesday pouring concrete approaches to the spans.
A crew is scheduled to pave the streamway with asphalt early in September, Maasen said.
Those attempting to walk the streamway now will find a gravel pathway that shadows Kill Creek under a canopy of timber.
"People are already using it, but we don't encourage it because of rebar and other safety concerns at the approaches," he said. "Once the approaches are finished, people are going to use it."
A fenced, off-leash dog run and restroom facilities are also planned for the southern access point that is to be open from sunup to sundown, Maasen said. The dog run is not yet completely fenced in, he said.
The park is a cooperative effort between the city and the park district, Maasen said. The city acquired much of the streamway's right of way through agreements with from Huhtamaki and Mr. Goodcents. The county budgeted $400,000 to purchase land for the pathway's southern access point and its construction fee, he said.
Even as workers are finishing touches on the new streamway park, the city and county are considering possibilities to link it to future pathways.
The city is seeking another easement from Mr. Goodcents for a branch pathway that would connect the streamway to a future city park near across Lexington from the west Y. The branch pathway would follow the railroad spur that serves the K-10 Commerce Park.
City Engineer Mike Brungardt said drainage improvements near the railroad spur were part of the city's five-year capital improvement plan. The pathway could be included in that project at little cost, he said.
The county, too, plans to expand the Kill Creek streamway park, Maasen said. The park district would like to connect the streamway park to Miller Park and the Kansas River to the north and to Kill Creek Regional Park to the south, he said. For the northern extension, the park district wants to follow the creek bank as far north as possible but realizes the trail will have skip over to Lexington at some point, he said.
Ideally, the southern extension would follow Kill Creek, Maasen said. That extension would be made much easier should the park department receive the 2,000 acres of the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant it has requested.
Sen. Pat Roberts introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would guarantee that transfer. Blaine Hastings, Sunflower project manager for the U.S. General Services Administration, said the bill was tabled for this year.
The local pathway is an initial step in the park district's ambitious system of streamway parks proposed in the park district 2020 plan. When fully realized, the plan would allow hikers and bikers to traverse the length and breath of the county along a spiderweb of off-road trails.