Lenexa residents tired of rail horns may get some relief. Here’s when it could happen

·5 min read

It’s about to get a lot quieter for residents and businesses near two BNSF railroad crossings in Old Town Lenexa.

Construction wrapped up in mid-July on new wayside horns that direct warning sounds down the street, so motorists are aware of approaching trains, but don’t send so much unwanted noise into surrounding neighborhoods.

The stationary horns have been installed at the Pflumm Road and Noland Road railroad crossings. During a 30-day testing period, the wayside horns will sound along with the traditional horns on passing trains. After the test, the warnings will come only from the trackside horns, bringing long-sought peace to the roughly 1,200 residents and businesses within a half-mile of the crossings.

Merriam already has wayside horns at three rail crossings.

Townhomes for Shawnee

Instead of the 189-unit apartment building opposed by many neighbors and shot down last November by the Shawnee City Council, the Sunflower Development Group will build townhomes on a 1.7-acre site that once was home to the Wonderscope Children’s Museum.

On July 26, the City Council approved the new proposal for 5700 King St. in the downtown area of Shawnee. According to city documents, Sunflower wants to build 26 two-story attached townhomes contained in four buildings. All will have at least three bedrooms.

The planning staff said the townhomes meet the city’s goal of enriching downtown by offering more housing choices and more residential density to support stores and entertainment venues in the area.

Wonderscope has moved to the Red Bridge Shopping Center in south Kansas City.

Money allocated for U.S. 69

Funding is now in place to create express toll lanes on U.S. 69 in Overland Park, putting the lanes on track to open in 2025.

Last month, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced that the state will provide $280 million for the first phase of the project, between 103rd and 151st streets. Overland Park’s $20 million match will come from toll revenues.

Crews will widen U.S. 69 to six lanes with the addition of two express toll lanes built in the median. Drivers will choose whether to pay a toll or stay in the existing lanes, which will remain free to use. Also part of the $300 million first phase are repaving existing lanes and reconfiguring the interchanges at Blue Valley Parkway and Interstate 435.

Expansion of the crowded highway is regarded as the top infrastructure priority in Johnson County.

Olathe teacher is Lowell Milken Fellow

Carly Bowden, who will begin teaching math this fall at Oregon Trail Middle School in Olathe, has been named a 2021 Lowell Milken Center Fellow.

Based in Fort Scott, Kansas, the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes is an international educational non-profit which awards the fellowships to educators who have distinguished themselves in teaching respect and understanding through project-based learning or who have the potential for the distinction.

Teachers from around the world are selected to collaborate during summer workshops on projects that identify and communicate the stories of unsung heroes in history. The idea is to inspire students to effect positive change.

County consolidates COVID vaccines in Mission

The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment has moved its COVID-19 vaccinations to the county’s Mission office at 6000 Lamar Ave.

Anyone needing a first or second shot can walk in from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and get vaccinated. Although the Mission office is now the primary site, COVID-19 shots can be given to people being seen for other reasons at the Olathe walk-in clinic, 11875 S. Sunset Drive.

The change took effect Aug. 2. Vaccines also are available at pharmacies, doctor’s offices and other health providers. To find a nearby site, visit www.vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829 or call 1-800-232-0233.

Park and trail closures

Two areas of the Johnson County park and trail system were closed in early August for construction:

The Gary L. Haller trail: A bridge replacement has closed a section of the trail for 10 to 12 weeks. It takes hikers and cyclists from Olathe to the Kansas River. The off-limits area is between the Barker and Midland access points toward the north end of the Mill Creek Streamway Park.

The 110-foot bridge, which has suffered stormwater damage over the years, will be replaced by a 130-foot bridge with concrete decking instead of wood.

Shawnee Mission Park: John Barkley Drive was closed for up to four weeks — even to bicyclists and pedestrians — roughly from the Shawnee Mission Park Lake dam to the road leading to Shelter 8.

Drivers are unable to complete the loop around the park while crews replace the road, add six-foot-wide asphalt shoulders and build trails nearby.

“The overall goal of this project is to improve safety for all park patrons … on the steep, tight curve of this segment of John Barkley Drive,” Project Manager Bill Leek said in a news release.

The gradient of the roadway will not change, however.

Paving work on I-435

Through mid-October, construction crews will be repaving Interstate 435 in the Shawnee area, from Midland Drive to the Kansas River bridge.

The $2.9 million “mill and overlay” project also includes ramps, widenings and shoulders. The work will be done at night: 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 7 p.m. to 10 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Expect lane and ramp closures where the work is being done.

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