Two Northland highway projects will create traffic headaches in the short-term, but both are expected to ease bottlenecked traffic areas once completed.
The Missouri Department of Transportation has opened up public comment on the planned replacement of the Missouri 152 bridge over Interstate 35. It’s one piece of a planned project to improve the Liberty side of the highway between I-35 and Missouri 291.
The current six-lane bridge at the intersection of I-35 and 152 will be torn out and replaced with a wider bridge that includes better pedestrian and bicycle access. MoDOT spokesperson Markl Johnson says the project is designed to ease traffic problems on 152.
The bridge is also old and needs to be replaced.
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“It’s reached its life span and it needs to go,” Johnson said. “It also needs to be widened. It bottlenecks when you reach the 152 bridge.”
At a January public comment meeting, most in attendance were concerned about detour routes and the need for the replacement given upgrades done in 2002. Johnson says the bridge — originally constructed in 1967 — is more than 50 years old and is reaching the end of its useful limit, with or without the bottleneck problems.
Access ramps will stay open throughout construction. MoDOT will attempt to complete the project in just four months, starting in the spring of 2019 and finishing it by that fall.
“We don’t want to have to put folks out any longer than we have to,” Johnson said. “We are hoping to get it done before school starts, because a lot of those school buses use that 152 bridge for their school bus routes.”
Pedestrian and bicycle access improvements are part of the project, which will include a multi-use path along the south side of 152 and Kansas Street. While the bridge replacement is only expected to take four months, the rest of the project is not expected to be completed until the end of 2020.
Another major highway project affecting the Northland also will get re-started in early March with a brief shut down of lanes on Interstate 435 at Missouri 210. The intersection, just south of Worlds of Fun, has been under construction since 2016.
Crews took a break during the cold-weather months, but work is expected to restart March 2-5 with the demolition of the flyover exit ramp off I-435 to westbound 210.
The work will expand the number of lanes on I-435 in addition to converting the on and off ramps to a diverging-diamond formation.
The new pattern will allow for a constant flow of traffic off I-435 rather in place of a traffic light, which often causes backups during rush hour.
“With the booming of business out there, the traffic has become insane,” Johnson said, “so they wanted to meet those demands.”
The diverging-diamond intersection should be completed later this year.
Public comments on either project can be made at www.modot.org.