Development

Kansas City’s Buck O’Neil Bridge could face a two-year shutdown starting in 2019

An engineering study is warning that the Buck O’Neil Bridge in downtown Kansas City may need to be closed for as long as two years for repairs starting in 2019.
An engineering study is warning that the Buck O’Neil Bridge in downtown Kansas City may need to be closed for as long as two years for repairs starting in 2019. rsugg@kcstar.com

The aging Buck O’Neil Bridge in downtown Kansas City needs serious attention that may result in its being closed for as much as two years, beginning possibly in 2019, the state said Thursday.

The price tag was bound to be steep, and the engineering study is projecting possibly $40 million worth of work, said Brian Kidwell, the assistant district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

“We know the bridge has lots of problems,” Kidwell said. “We’re trying to take steps now so that we have a plan to work on it.”

Some 40,000 vehicles a day cross the Buck O’Neil Bridge — formerly named the Broadway Bridge — spanning downtown Kansas City and Clay County.

At 60 years old, the Buck O’Neil Bridge has outlived the old Paseo Bridge, which was 56 when it was replaced by the Bond Bridge in 2010.

Regional planners coordinated by the Mid-America Regional Council last week launched a year-long planning process to look at wide-ranging ideas to remake the infrastructure and other amenities in the bridge’s business and transportation corridor.

The planning began because MARC and local and state officials wanted to use the imminent remaking of the bridge as an opportunity to make broader plans considering changing economic forces, demographics, technology and the environment.

Just how the repairs and the larger development plans will be funded is still up for grabs.

The group is planning multiple public meetings throughout the year, aiming for recommendations in early 2018.

The engineering report on the bridge, by HDR, Inc., doesn’t change that timeline, Kidwell said.

“We’re trying to be good stewards and be ahead of this bridge,” he said. “And then get the bridge back in service for two and three decades to come.”

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