Southbound traffic on the Buck O’Neil Bridge, a major link connecting Kansas City's Northland to downtown, is scheduled to shut down May 19 for a $7 million repair project.
Work on the former Broadway Bridge, which carries 44,000 vehicles daily on Route 169, is expected to be completed by December 1. Northbound traffic will not be affected during construction.
The short-term repairs to the 62 year-old bridge will buy time for planning and building a replacement bridge that would open in 2023, officials said.
“This is the first step in a multi-step process to build a brand new bridge. This is a good day in Kansas City,” City Manager Troy Schulte said on Tuesday. “This has been a tremendous partnership with the Missouri Department of Transportation.”
The $7 million cost of the repairs will be split evenly between the city and state. It will include repairs to expansion joints, cable replacements and a partial scour remediation.
During construction, one lane of Route 169 southbound will continue to allow access to the Charles Wheeler Downtown Airport from the north, but no farther.
● Southbound traffic on Route 169 and I-29 will be directed to Southbound I-35 and across the Christopher S. Bond Bridge.
● Traffic entering onto Southbound Route 69 south of I-29 will be directed to Southbound Route 9 and across The Heart of America Bridge.
The project budget also includes $2 million to conduct an environmental study that will lay the groundwork for what’s expected to be the construction of a $200 million replacement bridge.
Key capital funding for that larger project was recently approved by city voters in April.
The city is expected to pick up $40 million of the cost with another $60 million provided by regional federal transportation funding. MoDOT will contribute $100 million for the project.
Susan Barry, MoDOT assistant district engineer, said the environmental study would take about a year and a half to complete. A decision would then be made on a new bridge, which would probably be completed in 2023.
That new bridge is expected to directly connect U.S. 169 traffic with Interstate 35, eliminating the current awkward situation where traffic must first travel on Broadway a short distance before making the connection.
Barry said a new bridge would be designed to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists. It also would complement proposed improvements to the North Loop freeway that are being considered in the city's Beyond the Loop study.
Schulte also said the city will continue to seek additional federal funding for the bridge replacement project to help reduce the local cost. The old bridge will be demolished when its replacement is completed.
Kevin Collison, a freelance contributor to KCUR 89.3, writes about downtown Kansas City for his website CityScene KC.