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Proposed plan to rehab Buck O'Neil Bridge avoids shut down

Posted at 9:42 PM, Nov 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-02 23:27:52-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There's already a major rehab planned for the Buck O'Neil Bridge in 2019, but it would require the span to shut down for two years.

A lot of people voiced their opposition so MODOT went back to the drawing board and came up with a new proposed plan on the table to patch up the aging Buck O'Neil bridge.

"We've got to get in there or we're going to be subject to some unexpected emergency closures," Brian Kidwell, MODOT's Kansas City District Engineer said Thursday.

In recent months, MODOT has highlighted the dire need to repair the 61-year-old span, replacing it would cost about $200 million. MODOT tells 41 Action News the money for that isn't there.

This new short-term plan helps buy time.

"We need to go in and do the worst of the worst, do a light duty rehab. We think that we have one identified, it's going to cost approximately $5.5 million," Kidwell said.

That price tag would be split between the state and the city. An additional $2 million would be added to complete an environmental study focused a permanent solution.

The new plan also avoids a complete closure by keeping the bridge's northbound lanes open.

"Outbound would be open all the time you'd have access to the airport and we would just work on one half and then we would take the same northbound lanes and move them over to the other side and complete the rest of the bridge," Kidwell said.

The project would last five to six months.

"The city has been advocating for a solution that avoids shutting down the bridge because it’s such an important link for residents and businesses across the metro," Chris Hernandez, a KCMO spokesperson said in a statement. "We support these continued efforts to find a regional plan that keeps the bridge open during repair or replacement."

MODOT emphasizes this is a Band-Aid fix until they can build a modern span into the downtown loop. 

"The need is there, I think the regional support is there. I think it's just going to take us a little bit more time, hopefully not much, to identify the funding and really get serious about moving a full replacement forward," Kidwell said.

He adds paperwork for this proposed plan is still being drafted and the community will have a chance to weigh in on this plan during a meeting at the end of the month. Details are still being worked out, according to Kidwell.