87th Street Parkway now open; tunnel work continues

87th Street Parkway now open; tunnel work continues
Posted on 08/15/2022
Early design rendering. The completed tunnel will have an arched roof.

87th Street Parkway just east of the entrance to Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park is now open. Contractors finished installing the new pre-cast pedestrian tunnel ahead of schedule. 

Expect daily lane closures while crews finish work along the sides of the street and the tunnel entrance. Sidewalks and trails remain closed at the project site as work continues. Once the floor is poured and lighting and security measures are installed, the tunnel will be ready to use this fall. 

To keep up with the most current closure details, sign up for Road Closure Alerts at Lenexa.com/Enews, or follow the City of Lenexa on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Nextdoor.

What to look forward to

The Little Mill Creek Trail, one of Lenexa’s most popular trails, currently comes to a halt at 87th Street Parkway. Here, walkers and cyclist must climb four flights of stairs going more than 20 feet above the trail, then cross four busy lanes of divided roadway before they can continue their route south into Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park.

The new tunnel will feature tall arched entrances on both sides and round-the-clock lighting. It will also have an emergency call box and security cameras. It’s set high enough above the nearby stream to avoid flooding.

Once complete, this north/south connection will help walkers and cyclists to safely access businesses and amenities on both sides of 87th Street Parkway.

  • Residents to the north will benefit from direct access to Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park – often noted as the heart of the city for its many amenities and events – plus an easier connection to the Bois D’Arc Park pickleball complex and Old Town Lenexa.

  • Residents to the south will have safer access to the extensive Little Mill Creek Trail network and several parks lining the trail. They’ll also be able to travel to Ad Astra Pool more easily when Indian Trails Aquatic Center at Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park closes for renovations next year.

  • Cyclists will enjoy an uninterrupted trail system that offers more options to explore and get where they need to go.

Lenexa received a $1.1 million grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation to help fund this project. The tunnel is expected to open to travelers by fall.

Trail crossing options

The City worked with a consultant to evaluate the best ways to approach constructing a tunnel, the safest option for walkers and bikers to access both sides of the trail. 

Their analysis found that the most practical, cost-effective method would be to dig a trench across 87th Street Parkway, install precast tunnel structures and fittings, reconstruct the road above, and pour a concrete walking surface through the tunnel.

The consultant estimated that tunneling under the road would cost about three times more than installing a precast tunnel. 

A pedestrian bridge was ruled out early in the planning process due to the topography of the area around the trail. The existing trail ends at a set of stairs that rises about 20 feet to 87th Street Parkway. A bridge built over 87th Street would have to be at least 16 feet over the street to meet minimum clearance requirements. That means the bridge would have to be 36 feet above the existing trail.

To meet minimum ADA requirements, ramps structures would have to be designed to accommodate 504 feet of trail on each side of the bridge. The only other option would be to install elevators. This would be extremely inconvenient for cyclists, as well as prohibitively expensive and maintenance-heavy.

Updated Aug. 15, 2022