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1 dead, 3 more injured when bridge under construction collapses near Kearney

Crews were pouring concrete for new deck as part of replacement project
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Bridge collapse near Kearney
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Posted at 2:25 PM, Oct 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-27 10:35:38-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One person died and three others were injured Wednesday when a bridge under construction east of Kearney collapsed.

The Clay County Sheriff's Office said Shady Grove Bridge at Northeast 148th Street collapsed around 1:45 p.m.

According to the sheriff's office, the bridge was under construction near East Grove Road and Northeast 148th Street.

Clay County Digital Communications Coordinator Mike Wilson said a construction crew was pouring the bridge deck for the project, which was nearing completion.

The three people who survived the collapse were taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries after they “were able to extricate themselves” from the rubble, according to the sheriff’s office. The sheriff's office updated the number of non-fatal injuries from two to three shortly before 5 p.m.

"Clay County wishes to express its deepest condolences to Lehman Construction Company and the families of the workers involved following this afternoon’s bridge collapse at Northeast 148th Street," the county said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.

There was no previous indication of structural issues with the 165-foot bridge prior to the collapse, according to an update from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday afternoon.

“The Clay County Highway Department states there were no safety concerns on the project prior to today,” the sheriff’s office said. “An engineering contractor was on scene today inspecting the bridge before the deck was poured.”

The bridge and roads leading to it were closed in 2016. Construction was expected to wrap up in early 2023.

The bridge, which spans Carroll Creek, is one of five currently closed and two currently under construction, according to the Clay County Highway Department.

The work was being performed by Lehman Construction Company, which was founded in 1997 in California, Missouri.

Bidding for the project closed in early March 2021 and Lehman Construction was awarded the contract in May 2021, which is when construction began.

Lehman Construction was hired to demolish the existing wood-and-metal pony truss bridge and build a modern steel-girder “superstructure slab bridge,” including adjustments to the approaching roadways and incidental work as required.

Funding for engineering for the bridge — funded through an 80/20 partnership between the federal government and Clay County for the nearly $1.41-million project, according to the Mid-America Regional Council — was approved in 2017 and construction funding was approved in 2020.

"The project was included in part of the federal Off-System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation (BRO) program," Clay County said in a statement. "Clay County had contracted with WSP Engineering to both design the bridge and to perform inspections at all critical points of the bridge completion process."

The sheriff's office said Wednesday afternoon "there were multiple contracting companies on scene at the time of the collapse" and "no county employees," but Clay County later clarified that "workers with Lehman Construction Company that had been contracted by Clay County were pouring the decking for the bridge this afternoon when the collapse happened" in a statement.

OSHA, which fined Lehman Construction for a “serious” violation of safe working conditions in 2019 on a different project, is sending compliance officers to investigate the bridge collapse.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office said it will turn over the investigation to OSHA.

Lehman Construction has performed work on several other projects in the Kansas City, including the Interstate 49 diverging-diamond interchange in Harrisonville.