Overland Park drivers brace for traffic after popular detour reduced to one lane

OP business suffers from road closure and delays

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Just when drivers in Overland Park were used to using US 69 as a detour, they may need an alternative route.

Construction on the Metcalf bridge has forced closures from 167th to 179th streets on Metcalf Ave. since last August. 

The bridge should have been fixed by November; however, repairs were delayed after engineers discovered it was more damaged than anticipated. 

Nearly a year later, the stretch of road is still closed and it’s affecting businesses like the Stilwell Station. 

“Because we don't have the northbound traffic coming through here,” said Shirley McCowen, a manager at the gas station. "Oh, they're very frustrated, the whole town."

The city blames the frigid winter for the most recent delay. “It's extremely frustrating,” said Ken Parker, the pastor at Stilwell Methodist Church. 

A number of church members have to take detours to get to service. “Getting to and from church is not necessarily the easiest for them,” he said.

US 69 is the most popular alternative route, but beginning Friday that road will be reduced to one lane. More than 50,000 depend on it.

“It’s poor judgment on their part,” said Tony Kerr, who depends on Metcalf Ave. to buy groceries and get to other major stores, “because the counties doing that and the city's doing this and they need to coordinate their projects and their timing."

KDOT says they scheduled the road maintenance before the bridge delays and says they can't delay their work.

US 69 should be back to two lanes later this month. Metcalf bridge should be open by June, maybe sooner.

"I'll believe it when I see it,” Kerr said.  

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