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Missouri governor: 'We will build the Buck O’Neil Bridge'

Buck O'Neil Bridge
Posted at 4:24 PM, Jan 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-15 23:30:59-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced plans to rebuild the Buck O'Neil Bridge on Wednesday during his State of the State Address.

"There is one more very special project that I am so proud to announce, especially in front of Mayor (Quinton) Lucas and our Kansas City delegation … and that is we will build the Buck O’Neil Bridge," Parson said.

Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas could be seen standing and applauding after the announcement.

In a tweet moments later, Lucas called it "great news for our community and for those who have advocated for this project for years."

The project, for which a timeline has not yet been determined, is predicted to cost more than $200 million. Lucas' office said Wednesday that the project will be partially funded by a $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and a $40 million grant from the Mid-America Regional Council. The city of Kansas City and state of Missouri will create a cost-share agreement for the remaining funding.

“MoDOT will allocate the funds necessary to rebuild the bridge to fill the gap between pre-existing local and federal grant contributions," a spokesperson for the mayor clarified.

MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna provided the following statement to 41 Action News:

Governor Parson’s leadership and work with the General Assembly funded his Focus on Bridges Program to repair and replace 250 bridges throughout Missouri. The creativity of Governor Parson’s plan enables the reallocation of $350 million that would have otherwise been spent on these bridges. That reallocation process is now underway as the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission last week reviewed the MoDOT financial forecast and on January 23 planning partners from around the state will meet in Jefferson City to update the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan. The Kansas City urban area will receive approximately $60 million in state funding that provides the final funding for the replacement of the Buck O’Neil bridge. Without the Governor’s leadership and the strong financial support of Kansas City and the Mid-America Regional Council, we would only be able to rehabilitate the bridge. Much work and final approval through the planning process remains, but the strong local, state and federal partnership is making this critical project a reality.

PHOTO GALLERY: Buck O'Neil Bridge through the years

The mayor's office said the bridge will be rebuilt, not refurbished or renovated.

The three-arch bridge, which spans the Missouri River into downtown KCMO, was built in 1955.

A spokesperson for Lucas said the mayor and Parson had been in discussions about the project, but the announcement Wednesday came as "a welcome surprise."

In recent years, the Missouri Department of Transportation completed a rehabilitation project on the bridge.

In 2019, MoDOT asked for public input on four options to improve the bridge, then a $200-million dollar project.

At more than 60 years old, the bridge sees around 44,000 vehicles each day.