Kansas City’s newest bridge officially opens Thursday with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The U.S. 69 Missouri River Bridge connects Platte and Wyandotte Counties. The crossing opened to traffic in December but the finishing touches to a ramp and a pathway for pedestrians and cyclists were just completed.
Missouri is busy upgrading or replacing historic bridges build from the 1930s to the 1950s. A new bridge was recently finished upstream in Atchison and engineers are currently looking at downtown’s 60-year-old Buck O’Neil Bridge.
Lisa Stupps from the Missouri Department of Transportation says the two bridges the new structure replaces, the historic Fairfax and Platte Purchase Bridges, were aging and too costly to maintain.
“The upkeep, the functionality of the bridges and then the types of traffic that was needing it these days, all of that led us to try to replace those bridges right now with a single bridge,” she explains.
Stupps says the new steel and concrete girder bridge is also about 400 feet shorter than its predecessors.
“Building the bridge very short they were able to tighten it up close to the levies and cut out a lot of cost and that helps us in the future because we don’t have as long a bridge to maintain,” she says.
The cost of the $79 million project was split with the Kansas Department of Transportation.
Danny Wood is a freelance reporter for KCUR 89.3.