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KDOT awards $500,000 for next phase of Cedar Creek Trail — here's what's happening now, next

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Last week, Olathe city officials and state leaders announced the Cedar Creek Trail project would get $500,000 from the KDOT cost-sharing program during Gov. Laura Kelly's visit. The money will support the second phase. 

As the first phase of the Cedar Creek Trail project in Olathe nears completion, funding for the next phase is starting to shape up. 

The next phase of the project is expected to cost roughly $1 million, and last week, the Kansas Department of Transportation promised $500,000 through its cost-share initiative. The remaining $500,000 price tag will be paid for with the city of Olathe’s Parks and Recreation sales tax. 

The second phase will connect the phase one trail to Cedar Lake with a paved, 10-foot wide trail. Subsequent phases, which are not yet funded, will tie in with Lake Olathe and its current trails and connect Lake Olathe with Johnson County’s Cedar Niles Park. When all is said and done, the trail will be more than two miles, cross creeks and go under both railroads and highways.

The trail project — part of a master plan for Lake Olathe and Cedar Lake adopted in 2016 — is expected to cost roughly $2.5 million. On top of the KDOT money, the MidAmerica Regional Council’s Active Transportation Programming Committee awarded the whole project about $500,000 from the Kansas Transportation Alternatives Program. 

LOOKING AHEAD 

There’s not a clear timeline on the build out of later phases, but the first phase is expected to wrap up before the summer ends, the city’s communications manager Cody Kennedy said. Design work on the second phase is ongoing. 

“The Trails and Greenways Guiding Plan is anticipated to be completed this autumn and will offer a guide for future connections,” Kennedy said. 

The guiding plan is a long-term plan to improve trails across the city’s system. It’s not really a budget or a concrete list like a capital improvements project list, rather, it's part of a general goal toward building up Olathe’s active transportation access with trail enhancements. More than anything else, it’s a priority list for the next 20 years, kind of in the same vein as the Olathe 2040 plan, Charlie Cowell, an urban planner for RBG Planning and Design told the Olathe Reporter previously. A lot of the conversations so far, led in part by community engagement sessions, have focused on trail connectivity, which Cedar Creek Trail could address. 

This process will culminate in a guide that will replace a plan drafted in 1993 — a time when Olathe was quite different. Parks project manager for Olathe Tod Hueser says this plan will be important for informing Olathe’s trail system and its growth in the future. It will also correspond with county-wide trail plans and the Kansas City region’s MetroGreen plan.

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