KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City officials would like the state to build a new Broadway Bridge and overhaul its primary access roads, which can sometimes back up traffic half a mile or longer during morning and afternoon rush hours.
The steel-truss structure, which carries 50,000 to 60,000 vehicles a day on U.S. 169, opened in 1956 as a toll bridge run by the city. The toll was ended in 1991 and the state took control of the bridge the next year.
It is one of four major bridges that carry traffic into the city from north of the Missouri River, and the last of those four that really need work, City Manager Troy Schulte said.
The cost to repair the bridge is estimated at up to $20 million, though the kind of broader program sought by city leaders would run more than $200 million.
Despite funding problems, the Missouri Department of Transportation would like to put some kind of Broadway Bridge project on its five-year plan, The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/17IIR5e ).
"There is an interest in initiating a study to look into the (Broadway) project and figuring out what the right fix is," said Brian Kidwell, MoDOT assistant district engineer. "The problem is funding."
A recent inspection revealed deterioration of the bridge's steel trusses, including rust, Kidwell said. For the first time in its history, a weight limit was set at 45 tons.
The biggest hassle for motorists is at Sixth Street and Broadway, where traffic signals often cause significant backups. In addition to building the new bridge, city officials want MoDOT to help fix that congestion problem.
Improving transportation between the north and south of Kansas City is critical to its future as the population continues to boom north of the Missouri River, Schulte said. Platte County's population is projected to jump by 76 percent by 2040, while Clay County could soar by 70 percent.
MoDOT's construction budget has dropped to $700 million this year, down from an average of $1.2 billion during the past six years.
There is a request for about $2 million to study the needs of the bridge, Kidwell said, and if funding is found construction on a new span could begin by 2017 or 2018.
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