Proposed designs for Douglas rail underpass unveiled

WICHITA, Kansas – It has been a community eyesore for years, but civic leaders unveiled designs Tuesday to help give the Douglas Avenue rail underpass a much-needed facelift.

Residents and business leaders often complain about pigeons and their droppings in the link between Old Town and the arena neighborhood, as well as inadequate lighting and a dull ambiance. But the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation is proposing to provide more lighting, artwork, and efforts to clean up the sidewalks.

“That bridge is iconic to many Wichitans,” Jason Gregory, with the WDDC, said. It’s got a strong history, and it’s also a really prominent gateway into downtown and so we felt that it deserved some special treatment.”

Thanks to a $75,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, the WDDC partnered with Law-Kingdon Architecture to present some conceptual designs to the public.

“[It] could be that it changes as you walk through to kind of give you different perspectives of it,” Jeff Fluhr, WDDC president, said. “The tile work that could be on the wing walls as you come out, individual pictures of some nature, of some topic, but when you back away from it, it actually creates an overall mosaic.”

The group is still calculating how much the project will cost, and will likely need to work on it in phases. The WDDC is applying for grants with multiple foundations and private sources to fund the facelift before seeking help from the city.

“We’re jumping right on that so that we can hopefully open up some funding to make some of these things happen,” Fluhr said. “Certainly as we go into the first of next year, hopefully you’ll start to see some of these things come about.”

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