Road less traveled leads to new trail connecting the Northeast and the River Market

Found road leads way to safer path connecting city

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Every weekend, Cliff Drive is closed to cars and is filled with cyclists, joggers, hikers and rock climbers. The nearly five-mile stretch has drawn people from the earliest days of Kansas City. Neighbors are looking to expand the draw of the area.

Over the next two years, a mile-long connector will join Cliff Drive to the River Market and downtown.

"There are a lot of people in downtown KC that would like to have an alternative route to it and we want to give them that alternative route," Scarritt Neighborhood Association Vice President Will Royster said.

Right now, about the only way to get to Cliff Drive and Kessler Park is to drive or maneuver through traffic on Independence Boulevard. With close to 20,000 cars traveling that road every day, it can be a dangerous task.

A cyclist was hit and killed on the boulevard in the summer of 2007.

"We're trying to make a backdoor into the park and onto Cliff Drive," Royster said.

That backdoor has been found. Adam Schieber, with Cliff Drive Corridor, trekked through most of the trails around Cliff Drive and noticed something strange.

"I finally found this spot where, just off Paseo, you can see this bump out of concrete, off the road and it disappears into the tree line," Schieber said.

With that lead, Schieber looked at old maps and found a road, or at least a road on paper. The road had long gone by the wayside and back to brush, but Schieber had an idea to bring that road back to life.

It is a short switchback that runs alongside Interstate 35 and over the next two years will be reborn as a ten-foot-wide path leading under I-35 and connecting to the River Market.

"It's either city-owned or state-owned land that we are going to use," Schieber said.

That helps reduce the cost and speed up the process for getting the connecting trail finished. It will cost approximately $1 million and two years to connect downtown to Cliff Drive in a safe way.

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