The barricades are down and the Grand Boulevard Bridge over I-670 in downtown Kansas City is once again open to traffic.
“Let’s get her open,” Gregg Smith, Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission chairman, told a gathering at Friday morning’s ribbon cutting. The rebuilt bridge at Grand Boulevard and Truman Road opened about 11 a.m.
The bridge underwent an emergency closure May 6 after a Missouri Department of Transportation inspection revealed structural problems.
It’s still not clear what caused some large cracks to emerge precipitously, but the department determined the bridge needed to be demolished and replaced. A collaboration between the city and the state, plus good weather, helped speed up a project that normally takes several years, leading to completion in seven months.
Brian Kidwell, assistant district engineer with MODOT, said the department prefers to take time with its bridge projects, and this was not a normal process. But he said the emergency project on a major bridge in downtown ended up being a good partnership and did not cost considerably more money despite the fast schedule.
Kidwell said the process went smoothly in part because HDR Inc. had done a similar design on the Main Street bridge over I-670 in 2014, and Clarkson Construction, the contractor on the job, came in with a bid that was well within the budget.
“The public got a great value,” he said. The Missouri department provided $3.5 million to replace the bridge, and the city of Kansas City provided $1.1 million for enhancements for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.
Those upgrades include bike lanes, decorative railing, 12-foot sidewalks and curb ramps, LED lighting, a seat, and decorative fencing.
Kansas City Public Works Director Sherri McIntyre said the design was very efficient and the project was a great team effort. She said she was particularly pleased with the pedestrian and bike enhancements that make the bridge more attractive than a typical infrastructure project.