Residents of Mission Hills are growing accustomed to the neon orange traffic cones lining the streets and the consistent sound of power drills in the morning. Also, drivers must also adapt to the new routes they will be taking to school and work to cope with the closing of 63rd St.
63rd St. runs through Mission Hills, serving as a vital transportation outlet for many East students. Roadblocks and detour signs went up on Jan. 11, marking the beginning of the 10 month reconstruction project.
Courtney Christensen, city administrator for the city of Mission Hills, explained that the project has been in planning for six years. The project entails rerouting the current Indian Creek channel at the intersection of 63 St. and Wenonga westward, and constructing a new, larger and longer bridge to overpass it.
“Our bridges are looked at every two years, and our bridge at 63rd and Wenonga was found to be deficient,” Christensen said. “This meaning it’s not necessarily unsafe, but it is aging to the point where it needs to be replaced.”
In order to pay for the $3.3 million project, the city has been saving money for the past five years.
“The cost of the bridge and the roadway, so $1.675 million, is coming from Johnson County as part of their County Assisted Road System Program,” Christensen said.
While the city was evaluating the bridge project, they began to look at other aspects of the road: condition of driveway approaches, sidewalks, curbs and the asphalt itself. It became apparent that more than the bridge was in need of repair, so the project grew from the task of shifting a creek channel and relocating its bridge to a total makeover. Sixty-third street will be rewarded with nicer and newer drive approaches, curbs, sidewalks and pavement, as well as an installation of new water and gas mains.
Residents, on the other hand, have not been anticipating such a large and drawn-out project. While the first month of the closure has produced no phoned-in complaints, many Mission Hills residents find the closing to be inconvenient.
Junior Tyler Lockton lives in north Mission Hills, meaning her every-day route to school has taken a detour. Her original 10 minute drive is now 20.
“The whole street is closed at once, and I feel like it would have been easier if they would have done little sections so that you could still cross 63rd,” Lockton said.
Although the elongated process has proved inconvenient for some, the overall final product will result in a safer and more attractive road with bonuses of new gas and water mains – the wait will be over Nov.1.