Kansas City officials seek public input on $7M Buck O'Neil Bridg - KCTV5

Kansas City officials seek public input on $7M Buck O'Neil Bridge plan

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Officials have approved a temporary $7 million fix, but, for those who use the bridge on their commute, there is more than a price tag to worry about. (KCTV) Officials have approved a temporary $7 million fix, but, for those who use the bridge on their commute, there is more than a price tag to worry about. (KCTV)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A figure in the Kansas City skyline could get a temporary upgrade.

The Missouri Department of Transportation wants to know what the public thinks should be done to the aging John Jordan “Buck” O'Neil Bridge.

The bridge is more than 60 years old and with that comes some issues that need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Officials say the expansion joints, which allow the bridge to expand and contract, need to be fixed and that drivers can feel the bumps when the drive on the bridge. They also want to replace the cables and partially replace the scours, which stick out of the water and can erode easily.

A temporary $7 million fix has been approved. A full replacement, on the other hand, could cost about $200 million. The plan is to eventually replace the bridge at a point in the future. A number of environmental studies will need to be done as well. 

Experts say that can't wait all that time to raise the funds and complete the studies when there are safety concerns that need to be addressed, and will, with the temporary fix.

However, for those who use the bridge on their commute, there is more than a price tag to worry about when it comes to the repairs.

Starting in June, the plan is to shut down the southbound lanes of Broadway Boulevard for six months. The northbound lanes will remain open due to the fire department's security concerns about getting emergency vehicles to the downtown airport quickly should something happen there.

KCTV5 spoke with people in the River Market District about how the changes will impact their commutes.

“I usually like coming down there because it’s the fastest way to get from north to downtown Kansas City, and some of our work is downtown, and that would cause a lot more heartache to get to the customer or even getting downtown when I’m on a personal thing,” Lenexa resident Paul Carollo said.

“I actually just go over it northbound and then I take a different way around so it’s not really going to affect me,” Kansas City resident Josh Albarelli said.

“Everybody will find alternative routes that will work for them, and we do have other choices," said Kathy Lutz-Dusenbery from Parkville, "but there will be a lot of pressure on those other choices.”

On Thursday, as is most days, traffic was backed up on the bridge as thousands made the commute from north Kansas City to the downtown area.

“We go from one side of the city to the other, so that’s a pretty main artery that you’ll have to find a way to get around," Carollo said.

Missouri officials plan to build a completely new bridge in that area but that plan will not be put in place for some time. That bridge is likely to cost about $200 million.

Funding for the temporary fix and the new bridge will be split between MoDOT and the Kansas City area.

Another complaint about the bridge has been about how narrow it is. People are not supposed to walk on the bridge but many do, which can be dangerous. In the plans for a new bridge, officials are pushing for a walkable design. 

An informational meeting to discuss the plan will be held Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mid-American Regional Council, located at 600 Broadway Boulevard.

Pictures shown at the meeting spoke for themselves, showing some of the rusting metal support beams, concrete coming loose from the piers, and erosion in the riverbed that puts one of the pier's stability at risk.

"That’s a long time, but if you do look at the bridge, it does need to have. I mean, you can. It’s obvious. You look at it while you’re driving it,” Carollo said.

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