After 41 Action News investigation, JoCo's 'Trail to Nowhere' finally getting paved

MISSION, Kan. - To folks who live or work near downtown Mission, it is a sight for sore eyes: workers pouring concrete on a walking path that has been more of an eyesore for years.

In 2011, a 41 Action News investigation took a closer look at the $1 million section of Rock Creek Trail running along Johnson Drive. Taxpayers expected more than the bumpy, weedy mess for the seven-figure price tag.

The path comes to an end at the perpetually-stalled "Gateway Project," the large piece of empty land on the city's west side. At the time, it earned the path the nickname of "Trail to Nowhere."

However, a mixed-use development anchored by a Walmart Supercenter should finally begin breaking ground soon, meaning it will be a trail to somewhere soon.

"It's going to be a trail that will connect a vibrant mixed-use center with the downtown and other transit improvements that are taking place in our area," said Martin Rivarola, the director of community development and neighborhood services.

Rivarola said it took longer than expected to get the trail paved. Placing it among the existing businesses added some challenges. The project is also being timed with other infrastructure improvements to avoid doing the same work twice.

For instance, one section of the trail will remain unpaved because of upcoming construction along Johnson Drive. Otherwise, it would have almost immediately been torn out and been a waste of money, Rivarola said.

Melodie Abernathy operates a daycare near the trail. She has been too worried about the kids being jolted out of their wagons to take a walk on the gravel.

"We're going to be out there with our tricycles celebrating," said Abernathy. "Sometimes I think the city of Mission is kind of like an ADD child that has things going on in all different areas. But I think it's coming together now and it will be great when it's done."

The city managed to pay for the concrete thanks to some nearby transit projects also being completed in the area. The funding comes in the form of federal tax dollars through Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER).

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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