Beginning in March, Johnson County bus riders will see the start of construction on a new, updated transportation system for Metcalf Avenue, Shawnee Mission Parkway and the city of Mission.
The project will include 18 new bus stops with shelters, renovations to two park-and-ride bus facilities, a trail on the east side of Metcalf from 87th Street to College Boulevard, a transit signal priority program and a Mission transit center.
”This is going to be a signature project for Johnson County,” said Chuck Ferguson, deputy director of transportation for the county. “We do not have the high level of public transit in the Johnson County area. There are some changes afoot as studies have shown from the public saying, ‘Look, we want more options.’
“What we hope to see is a higher level of public transportation visibility and an opportunity for something completely new that we haven’t seen before.”
Funding for the project was provided in large part by a federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant, which Johnson County was selected to receive after entering a national contest. The grant allotted $10.7 million of a $50 million regional grant to the Metcalf/Shawnee Mission Parkway corridor.
As part of the TIGER grant, the city of Mission will receive its own transit center, located between Johnson Drive and Martway at the former Capitol Federal bank site, near downtown Mission. The new site will replace the existing facility 6000 Lamar Ave.
Multiple buses will be able to pull in through the center, where people can transfer from one bus to another. Bus riders also will be able to view bus routes and schedules from a kiosk that will provide a digital message board with real time information.
“It will provide an enhanced bus service, and the buses can maintain services more accurately,” said Brian Scovill, manager on the project for the city of Overland Park. “People will be able to depend on the bus service a little more diligently.”
In addition, 18 bus stations will be constructed along the Metcalf Avenue and Shawnee Mission Parkway corridor. The stations will be developed to resemble transit stations around the Main Street area of downtown Kansas City, with shelters, enhanced lighting and bus arrival information at each location.
“Right now, bus riders flag down the bus to ride the bus,” Scovill said. “The shelters will provide an opportunity for the riders to have some protection from the elements. It’s a place where they know a bus will come.”
The park-and-ride facilities located at Rosana Square at119th Street and Metcalf and Metcalf South Shopping Center at 97th Street and Metcalf will be updated to include station shelters and digital kiosks with route and schedule information as well.
An additional park-and-ride station will be placed near the Mission transit center, with updates to the current park-and-ride site to the east of Johnson Drive and Martway.
The transit signal priority program will allow buses to communicate that they are behind schedule to select traffic signals, which will then adjust the signal timing for a longer green light or a shorter red light. These signals will be located from the Country Club Plaza through downtown Overland Park to Rosana Square.
The transit signal priority program will start in March, and the construction of the transit stations and park-and-ride facilities will begin in April to early May after bids are selected. All renovations and new facilities should be completed by 2013, according to Ferguson.
Johnson County is built around a car culture but transit officials are hearing from residents, especially younger ones, that they would like to live a more urban lifestyle that is not dependent on cars.
“This is an opportunity to view a lifestyle in an entirely different way that we haven’t had before in Johnson County,” Ferguson said. “It’s going to create the ability to live and commute in a density we haven’t had before. We’re just creating an area that is answering that call and desire.”