By Kevin Collison
Southbound traffic on the Buck O’Neill Bridge, a major link connecting the Northland and downtown, is scheduled to shut down May 19 for a $7 million repair project.
Repair work to the former Broadway Bridge, which carries 44,000 vehicles daily on Route 169, is expected to be completed by Dec. 1. Northbound traffic will not be affected during construction.
The short-term repair project to the 62 year-old bridge will buy time for planning and building a replacement that would open in 2023, officials said at a Tuesday press conference at the Mid-America Regional Council offices.
“This has been a tremendous partnership with the Missouri Department of Transportation,” said City Manager Troy Schulte.
“This is the first step in a multi-step process to build a brand, new bridge. This is a good day in Kansas City.”
The $7 million cost of the O’Neil Bridge 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 the repair project, 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 for 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 1 1⁄2 years to complete. Following that, a decision will be made on a new bridge which would probably be completed in 2023.
The new bridge is expected directly connect U.S. 169 traffic with Interstate 35, eliminating the current awkward situation in the River Market where traffic must exit first on to 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 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.
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