Aging Buck O’Neil Bridge to get $7M in repairs this year

A short-term rehabilitation project is on the books for the Buck O’Neil Bridge, but Parkville officials remain hopeful that a replacement bridge could be on the horizon.

Over the last year, Parkville, Riverside and other Northland municipalities have campaigned for state funding for a total replacement of the bridge, which was constructed in 1956 as the Broadway Bridge. The bridge carries about 40,000 vehicles daily on Highway 169 over the Missouri River and provides access to the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport. Its last major renovation was in 1990 and tolls were removed from it in 1991.

 JEANETTE BROWNING FAUBION/Citizen photo A view from the southwest side of the Buck O’Neil Bridge shows the structure that carries Highway 169 over the Missouri River. The bridge will undergo repairs later this year at the price tag of $7 million. The project will close the bridge to southbound traffic for about four months. 

JEANETTE BROWNING FAUBION/Citizen photo
A view from the southwest side of the Buck O’Neil Bridge shows the structure that carries Highway 169 over the Missouri River. The bridge will undergo repairs later this year at the price tag of $7 million. The project will close the bridge to southbound traffic for about four months. 

Early this year, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) announced its 2018 major road projects, including a rehab of the Buck O’Neil Bridge. MoDOT and the City of Kansas City will evenly split costs on the $7 million project. Work will include immediate repairs to the expansion joints, cable keep replacements and partial riverbed scour remediation. Work will begin in late spring or early summer of 2018 and finish before the end of the year. The estimated timetable for repairs is between five to six months. While northbound lanes will remain open during rehabilitation work to ensure access for emergency responders and 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 (formerly known as the Paseo Bridge) to the east.

Parkville mayor Nan Johnston is an active member of the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) transportation board and has lobbied for a replacement bridge.

“The long-range plan is to build a new and re-aligned bridge,” Johnson said. “Temporary repairs are necessary to hold the bridge in place until the project can be engineered and built. In addition, there is some additional funding that must be secured before the complete redesign. The short-term rehab is just that, and will hopefully hold things together until the new bridge can be funded, designed and built.”

According to MoDOT, a $2 million environmental study will be conducted during the closure. The study results will be used to help determine the feasibility of a new bridge in the future.

Last November, the Parkville board of aldermen approved a resolution to request funding for bridge replacement and realignment.

“This project will provide a link that enhances commerce, public safety, economic development and community cohesion for the Kansas City region,” the resolution states. The resolution was the latest of several issued in support of construction of a new bridge and the possible realignment of the north loop of I-70 in downtown.

Parkville officials included various suggestions for funding mechanisms in the letter, including the possibility of reinstituting tolls.

However a change to the Missouri Constitution would be needed for the latter option. The constitution does not allow tolls to be collected presently.