Signal Improvements and Added Sidewalks Increase Access to Local Amenities in ShawneePosted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 by Mike McKenna
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With the opening of the new Monticello Library, the City of Shawnee, Kansas wanted to improve access for all pedestrians. The library is located near busy Shawnee Mission Parkway (SMP), a growing commercial district, and a thriving residential area. Although there were sidewalks along the path between the neighborhood and the library, they were not connected to the commercial district south of SMP. The city wanted to build a continuous pathway, increasing safety and access to this important community resource.
The Hilltop Drive Sidewalk and American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) Improvements project was focused on meeting ADA compliance. To meet this goal, the Affinis design team ran sidewalks along Hilltop, connecting the local neighborhoods to the library and commercial districts. The grade varies greatly along this stretch of roadway. It is very steep in many places, which made it challenging to meet the requirements amid the area’s many slopes and embankments. In some areas along SMP, this was not achievable, and we used the exceptions to follow the slope of the road. In other areas, we moved the sidewalk closer to the road to maintain the cross slope to minimize the need for retaining walls.
Pedestrian crossings were another important component of the design. Reducing costs was top of mind, as we developed our solutions. We added pedestrian signals to existing signal poles to lower the overall costs.
Within the project site, Hilltop Road crosses a busy section of SMP, making it difficult for pedestrians to cross. To boost safety, we took advantage of the median to provide a pedestrian refuge in the middle of the SMP crossing. This allowed people to cross half of the road and then, have a place to wait before making the full journey. While there, they can use a push button to activate the signal. Using this approach, we were able to provide ample time to walkers.
By making these improvements, the city has increased connectivity to not only the library, but also nearby shops. While improved safety was the primary objective, this project helps to move Shawnee forward by supporting local businesses and providing better access to amenities for local neighborhoods.