By January, it’s going to get easier to see the Stone Arch Bridge, a distinctive structure spanning Truman Road between Independence and Kansas City.
Repairs now under way on the bridge include adding lights to its east and west faces to illuminate it at night.
Built shortly after the turn of the 20th century, the Stone Arch Bridge was an engineering marvel for its time. It was constructed before the concrete mixer was widely used and designed before the Ford Model T — widely regarded as the first affordable automobile — was produced.
The bridge, which carries Blue Ridge Boulevard traffic over Truman Road, was made with native, field-cut stone and cost less than $20,000.
The Kansas City Times reported that contractor Godfrey Swenson’s other projects included City Hall, the Jackson County Courthouse and the Kansas City Power & Light building, all in downtown Kansas City.
In 1930, Truman Road, which was then called Van Horn Road, was widened to accommodate automobiles and heavier traffic. The arches, though, were already wide enough.
The only major repairs to the bridge were completed in 1962 afer a crack developed in the structure.
According to Jackson County publics works officials, the current maintenance repairs also include:
• Removing trees from around the bridge to improve line of sight.
• Adding a wrought iron on top of the bridge walls to enhance safety for walkers and bicyclists.
• Replacing a wing wall and stabilizing another wing wall.
• Removing pavement from the top of the bridge and adding an impermeable layer and drainage layer to prevent excess water from seeping through the stone
• Resealing the exposed stone of the bridge.
The repairs were designed in consideration of the Truman Road Green Gateway Program, a corridor study partly funded by the Mid-America Regional Council.
Gunter Construction Company is doing the work for $378,475.
Besides being a landmark piece of infrastructure, the Stone Arch Bridge also has its place in Jackson County lore. In the 1920s and ’30s, it was occasionally a stopover for couples, according to a May 2, 1930, article in The Independence Examiner.
The story said the bridge was “a nightly redezvous (sic) of lovesick couples who park their cars, not to look at the road work but to get an unobstructed view of the moon.”