A partial closing of the Buck O’Neil Bridge for several months next year will make getting into and out of downtown Kansas City a bit challenging.
The good news for commuters is that the bridge won’t be completely shut down. However, if your route from the Northland takes you south into Kansas City over the bridge, you’ll want to start looking at maps for alternatives.
“As we do with all of our projects, we try to minimize the impact to traffic during construction,” said Matt Killion, a Kansas City area engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation.
The construction and closure time has been reduced to the shortest time possible, Killion said.
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“We’ve also assigned and established a detour we think is logical and won’t cause too many delays,” he said.
MoDOT released details on how the about 40,0000 vehicles that use the bridge each day would be affected by the repairs during a public meeting Thursday afternoon at the Mid-America Regional Council in downtown Kansas City.
The $6 million rehabilitation project is expected to get underway in May or June and continue through Dec. 1.
But it’s not until mid-June or July that half of the bridge will close.
At that time, the southbound lanes of the bridge will close for about five months. The official detour takes traffic south on Interstate 29 over the Bond Bridge.
Two lanes of northbound traffic will remain open during the project, including access to the Wheeler Downtown Airport. But in September or October, that traffic will be shifted onto the southbound lanes until the project is completed.
During the work:
▪ Southbound U.S. 169 will be closed to all traffic at the south Richards Road exit.
▪ Southbound Missouri 9 traffic will need to follow the highway through North Kansas City and cross the Missouri River on the Heart of America Bridge.
▪ Local traffic from U.S. 169 and Missouri 9 will have access to the Downtown Airport.
▪ Traffic from the Downtown Airport to locations south of the river will be detoured north along U.S. 169 to southbound I-29.
Kansas City and the Missouri Department of Transportation and Kansas City agreed to a short-term repair of the aging 61-year-old Buck O’Neil Bridge, formerly known as the Broadway Bridge.
The project is a compromise between Kansas City and MoDOT after a detailed examination of the bridge prompted MoDOT to press earlier this year for a $51 million major overall starting in 2019.
That plan would have required the bridge to be closed for two years. It would have also left it essentially the same.
Kansas City officials, however, want a new bridge to be built alongside the existing bridge. They argued that closing the bridge for two years would cause problems for commuters as well as emergency crews.
The compromise will allow critical repairs to be made to the bridge to fix the worst of the worst. It’s an effort to buy time to find funding a new bridge.
The estimated $200 million cost has been a sticking point. MoDOT has offered up to $100 million in matching funds if Kansas City can secure the rest.
This week, the MARC board of directors approved Kansas City’s request for a special allocation of $40 million in federal funding to help pay for the new bridge.
City leaders have recently said they are considering tolls or a new sales tax to help pay the rest for the new bridge.