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Kansas City committee agrees to funding framework for new Buck O'Neil bridge

Posted at 12:35 PM, Feb 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-08 21:00:41-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — City leaders took the next step toward paying for a new Buck O'Neil Bridge. City engineers say the bridge, built in 1956, is reaching the end of its lifespan and needs to be replaced. 

The City Council approved the plan in their Thursday meeting.

The bridge was once referred to as the Broadway Bridge and carries traffic from Broadway north on Highway 169 over the Missouri River into the northland.

Kansas City's Transportation and Infrastructure Committee agreed to the framework for paying for the $200 million project at a Thursday meeting. The full city council will now have to approve the plan. 

The agreement holds Kansas City responsible for $60 million of the total cost. The city has applied for two grants to cover those costs. It will also put a question to voters during an April election asking them to extend a one-percent sales tax increase for the next 20 years to help pay for the bridge. 

The Missouri Department of Transportation has committed $100 million to the project, and the Mid-America Regional Council secured an additional $40 million in federal resources. 

Crews will build the new bridge next to the existing one. The new bridge will connect Hwy 169 directly to Interstate 35. Currently, motorists have to pass either one or two traffic lights to make that connection. 

Wes Minder, an innovation engineer in the city manager's office said the new bridge should be open in 2023 or 2024. 

To make sure the existing bridge lasts until the new one is complete, crews will have to repair aspects of the bridge. At Thursday's meeting, Minder told committee members what needs repaired:

  • Expansion joints have expanded too far
  • The center support pier needs reinforcement under the Missouri River
  • Suspension cables need to be replaced

To make those repairs, crews will close the southbound lanes on the bridge from July 15 to December 1, 2018.

"The hope is, we'll deal with a little bit of pain for the long term benefit because we'd rather have a new structure with a better connection that better works for downtown for the future," said Minder.