It's been a long wait, but nighttime walkers will soon be able to easily view that dark strip of sidewalk wrapped around the airport.

It's been a long wait, but nighttime walkers will soon be able to easily view that dark strip of sidewalk wrapped around the airport.

Lights have been in the works for awhile, and though they aren't switched on just yet, the project has successfully navigated its way through the process.

“Lights were partially installed,” City Manager Justin Erickson said. “Then additional review was needed by the FAA due to the proximity to the airport.”

He said the review is now complete.

“The OGE contractor should be onsite this week and the work wrapped up by early September,” Erickson said. The project was funded through an Avedis Foundation grant.

In October of 2014, the board of directors of the Avedis Foundation announced a matching grant of $641,472 to the City of Shawnee –– to total nearly $1.3 million –– to begin building a walking and biking trail extension and additional lighting.

Implementation of the project would provide for much-needed lighting at the airport track –– especially the west side.

“The lights follow the airport walking track, which is about 3.5 miles in length,” Erickson said.

There are right at about 150 lights with an overall cost of approximately $200,000, he said.

“It is exciting to assist in the enhancement and extension of the Shawnee walking and biking trail and add lighting on the west side of the Airport trail,” Briggs said.

Trails

Now underway, new sidewalks are beginning to connect to the established airport track. As sections are being constructed, the desired result is to have a continuous route.

Avedis Foundation President and CEO Michelle Briggs shared an announcement in July that will continue the city's efforts to improve walkability by tying those sidewalks together.

During a Shawnee City Commission meeting, Briggs announced that Avedis and the city would partner in implementing the Master Trails and Sidewalk Plan –– a 5-year plan to build 14 miles of sidewalks at a cost of around $3.5 million.

“Avedis will match, dollar-for dollar, $350,000 annually through 2021,” she said. “There are some unallocated improvements, so we can be receptive to new projects, including the planned new elementary school by Shawnee Public Schools, whose location is unknown at this time.”

The project speaks to the core mission of Avedis: health, safety, physical and emotional wellness and quality of life, she said.

“If you review the planned improvements, you will see a few consistent themes: connections to schools, parks, neighborhoods and existing safe walking paths,” Briggs said.

When complete, there will be multiple north/south and east/west connections throughout the community, she said.

“We are so pleased to be a part of this initiative,” she said.

Erickson said, “It's been a pleasure to work with the Avedis Foundation and Michelle Briggs on this initiative and I am so thankful for this support –– I know how important this effort is to all of us and the community.”

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.