New school construction year ahead of Shawnee's 45th St. widening plan

Vicky O. Misa
The Shawnee News-Star
Shawnee City Engineer Seth Barkhimer stands before Shawnee city commissioners in January as he explains an agenda item seeking to negotiate a contract with a firm for design services on the 45th Street transportation project.

News of the City of Shawnee's 45th Street widening project offered a timeline as City Engineer Seth Barkhimer shared an update at this week's city commission meeting.

One goal of the plan is to alleviate potential traffic issues — especially since Shawnee Public Schools is set to begin construction next year on a new elementary school in the area.

“They'll (the school building project) beat us by at least 12 months,” Interim City Manager Eric Benson said. “But we have the ability to flex to that requirement … we're in discussion with school leadership; we're committed to satisfying the agreements that were made.”

The two-phase project, which will extend along 45th Street from Leo to Bryan, is intended to improve aging infrastructure, increase traffic capacity, make the corridor as a whole more pedestrian friendly, improve drainage and provide for future development, Barkhimer said.

Phase One would begin at Leo and work eastward to about halfway between Kickapoo and Union, Barkhimer said.

“We'll retime the light at Kickapoo and optimize it, given our new configuration of the lanes along the 45th Street corridor,” he said. “We'd also add a signal at Hardesty Drive — the drive that will be extended as part of the school project to provide them an opportunity to get in and out of there safely with bus traffic or parent pickup.”

Roadway improvements being recommended are a four-lane roadway, with a 10-foot trail on the north side of the street (west of Kickapoo) and a six-foot sidewalk on the south side. The trail will then transition to the south side just east of Kickapoo.

There are two major drainage crossings in the Phase One plan, he said.

“Both of them will have to be removed and replaced,” he said. Also, the project will become a more conventional curbed and storm sewer system.

Phase Two will continue from Phase One's stopping point to Bryan Street.

Shawnee's 45th Street widening plan timeline

• DONE: The city entered into a contract with CEC in March

• DONE: Conceptual studies were done until the middle of June

• RIGHT NOW: (September) the community is in the public meeting phase.

“We are opening that month window of public meeting, which will essentially be virtual,” Barkhimer said. Input can be submitted via email.

• NEXT: Design plans will be made in October

• THEN: A final plan and contract is hoped to be brought before commissioners by the end of 2021

• FINAL: Construction proposed to begin in 2023

Feedback sought on the widening plan

Barkhimer said a video has been prepared that will be available for viewing on the city website, at shawneeok.org, and on social media over the next month to month and a half.

“What that's doing is encouraging citizens to provide feedback,” he said, adding residents also can email questions or comments to 45thstreet@shawneeok.org.

For story ideas, questions or concerns, reporter Vicky O. Misa can be reached at vicky.misa@news-star.com.