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Officials Weigh Buck O’Neil Bridge Repair, Replacement Issues

February 2018

The Buck O'Neil Bridge will be partialy closed in 2018 for repairs.

The Buck O’Neil Bridge will be partially closed in 2018, but the inconvenience will be offset somewhat by two things: it is not as bad as it could be and it gives officials more time to plan for the ultimate solution – building a new, replacement bridge.

A critical connector for Clay County, the former Broadway Bridge carries some 40,000 cars between Downtown Kansas City and the Northland each day. Kansas City and Missouri officials have been working for months to plan a replacement for the more than 60-year-old structure.

The 2018 repair project is expected to get under way in May or June and continue through the end of 2018. All northbound lanes will remain open during rehabilitation work to ensure easy access for emergency responders and others to the downtown airport. All southbound lanes will be closed. Motorists will need to utilize Interstate 29/35, which carries traffic on the Christopher Bond Bridge.

The repairs focus on the areas of greatest concern to maintain safety and reliability of the current bridge. The necessity of the repairs is due to the age of the structure, structural problems and riverbed erosion issues.

The work will include repairs to the expansion joints, cable keep replacements and partial scour remediation. The current estimated cost of repairs is approximately $7 million. The project is a 50-50 cost-sharing agreement with the City of Kansas City, Mo. and MoDOT.

An environmental study will also be conducted during the project. The estimated cost of the study is $2 million and will be used to help determine the feasibility of a new bridge in the future.

The 2018 project is a compromise between Kansas City and MoDOT. Earlier, a detailed examination of the bridge prompted MoDOT to push for a major overhaul costing $51 million. That work would have begun in 2019 and lasted two years, during which time the bridge would have been completely closed.

However, Kansas City officials preferred that a new bridge be built alongside the existing bridge. They said that closing the bridge for two years would cause problems for commuters, as well as emergency crews. The compromise allows critical repairs to be made to the bridge to fix the worst of the bridge’s issues and buys time to find funding for a new bridge.

The funding for a new bridge is estimated to be around $200 million, but additional issues include much-needed re-alignment of the southern bridge approach with the downtown loop. MoDOT is also facing serious financial pressure statewide.

MoDOT has offered $100 million in matching funds if Kansas City can secure the rest. 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. The remainder will likely require tolls, a new sales tax or a sales tax renewal.

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