KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Following Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s announcement on Wednesday th at a new Buck O’Neil Bridge will be built in the years ahead, city planners and people who use the current bridge every day applauded the decision.
The project to replace the bridge, which was built back in 1956, will cost at least $200 million, with the price mainly split by the city and state.
For people who use the Buck O’Neil Bridge frequently, the announcement was met with support on Wednesday.
“It’s dark. It’s scary. It needs to be redone,” said Alex Baylie, who lives in the Northland and commutes to River Market. “There’s no room for walkers or bikers. It definitely needs the work for sure.”
Drivers have had to experience detours and delays on the bridge in recent years as it underwent various maintenance work.
With plans for the future bridge taking shape, the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) said the repairs helped pave the way for the new project.
“This is a bridge that’s still safe to drive on, but it’s aging and in bad need of repair and replacement,” said Ron Achelpohl, MARC director of transportation and environment. “Those repairs have built the time to put together the funding package for a new bridge.”
While a timeline for the project still remains unknown, KCMO Communications Director Chris Hernandez told 41 Action News that the new bridge would greatly help the metro area continue to grow and develop.
“A new bridge means economic opportunity,” he said. “It means we can re-envision the entire north loop of our downtown area. It means we can make sure we are providing the best pedestrian and bicycle access on that bridge as well.”
The Missouri Department of Transportation said three options for a new bridge could be chosen for the final design.
For now, an environmental study on the project will continue before public meetings are held later this winter for input.
Moving forward, Hernandez said the governor’s announcement on Wednesday helped bring the new bridge’s future closer to a reality.
“We’re really close to moving this project forward in a major way and to get that significant signal from the governor that we should move forward quickly and strongly on this, that’s going to help this entire process,” he said.
Baylie said he is excited for the updates.
“Just like the airport and everything, we’re getting super modern it seems like," Baylie said.