Trolley Track Trail will get a redesign in AUP+D planning competition

Lindsay Adams

The 6-mile Trolley Track Trail is a popular destination for joggers and cyclists. However, parts of the trail have experienced setbacks due to safety concerns. The Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design has focused its J.C. Nichols Planning Prize competition on the trail’s redesign.
The 6-mile Trolley Track Trail is a popular destination for joggers and cyclists. However, parts of the trail have experienced setbacks due to safety concerns. The Department of Architecture, Urban Planning + Design has focused its J.C. Nichols Planning Prize competition on the trail’s redesign.

After several setbacks the Trolley Track Trail has experienced in the last few years, a large expansion along the trail could be started soon. A new competition will allow Architecture, Urban Planning + Design Students at UMKC to plan a new design for the trail.

This is the first year for the J.C. Nichols Planning Prize competition. It is open to junior-level UMKC students taking an Urban Planning and Design class being taught by associate professor Michael Frisch, AICP, and visiting professor Ted Seligson, FAIA.

“The university is honored by this endowment, made possible by a generous donation from the Miller Nichols Charitable Foundation,” said Joy D. Swallow, FAIA, chair of the AUP+D department. “J.C. Nichols’ legacy as a pioneer and innovator in urban planning is recognized internationally, and we in Kansas City continue to benefit daily from his vision.”

There have been questions of the safety of the trail after a rape and attack just off of the southern end of the Trolley Trail last summer. Recently there has been a lull in the use at that part of the trail, thanks to the negative publicity. Even though James D. Kemp has pleaded guilty in the case and is being held until trial, many in the neighborhood remain uncomfortable with using the trail.

Many hope that this new development can rejuvenate this part of the trail.

“We are a catalyst. We set up projects that professional firms can then pick up and run with,” Frisch said. “We view our part in UMKC’s urban mission as a two-way exchange. We are helping the community, and we are learning from the community at the same time.”

The redesign is also in part due to a detour on the Trolley Track Trail between Troost and Woodland. It redirects pedestrians and bicyclists to use 85th Street instead of the trail, thanks in part to a sinkhole discovered in the trail east of Troost and south of 85th Street.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority bus system (KCATA) owns maintains and operates the Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail, named for the late state senator who sponsored KCATA’s tax legislation while representing the 10th district. The trail once was part of Kansas City’s last streetcar line, the Country Club route. The line was then adapted for the six-mile trail from Volker to 85th and Prospect.

The J.C. Nichols Planning Prize competition requires that students design and create a unique and original vision of an enhancement of a certain section of the trail. There are currently seven students participating. “The design work for the competition will involve a mix of individual and group work, just like what occurs in a professional urban planning office,” Frisch said.

The students are competing for a $500 prize. The proposed plans will be presented to judges on April 27, and the winner will be decided by the jury that same day.

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