Mission to scale back lanes on Johnson Drive in hopes of improving public safety

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MISSION, Kan. — Traffic flow will soon be changing in downtown Mission. Last week the city council unanimously approved plans to reduce Johnson Drive from four lanes to three. 

Johnson Drive runs through the center of the downtown Mission business district. Emily Randel, assistant to the city administrator, said the decision to adjust the roadway comes after a public survey revealed concerns for public safety.

“This area is changing. There’s lots going on here. We want to enjoy it and feel safe while we do so. We feel good about moving forward with this reconfiguration,” Randel said.  

City staff distributed a Johnson Drive Functionality survey in February. The city received responses from 209 residents and 16 businesses in the area. According to the survey results approximately 30% of people are concerned about speeding along Johnson Drive. More than 50% of people are concerned about crosswalk safety. 

“The nice thing about the timing of this project is that it sticks to the original timing of maintenance of the street,” Randel said. “We already would be coming through with a seal treatment. Once we do the seal treatment, when we replace the lane striping we will stripe it in that three-lane configuration instead of the four lane configuration.” 

Randel said the area east of Nall Avenue is currently striped as a three-lane roadway and will remain that way after the road is resealed next spring. The area to the west of Lamar Avenue will remain a four-lane roadway 

Once the restriping is complete, Johnson Drive will have a single lane of traffic in each direction and a turn lane in the middle. 

“The plan is what’s known as a road diet. It gives those using the area only one lane of traffic to contend with or worry about when they are crossing either in a car or a bike or with a stroller,” Randel said.  

Susan Speck lives a block away from Johnson Drive. Speck said traffic in the area is consistent and she worries eliminating a lane of traffic would lead to more congestion. 

“During the heavy traffic here it would be kind of a nightmare for people wanting to back out, because there’s no straight parking, no parallel parking,” Speck said. “To see what’s coming, if there was one lane, you’d continually be waiting for someone to back out and it would hold up traffic.” 

The reconfiguration of Johnson Drive will begin in the spring of 2022.

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