New Bridge to Bridge KC Divide?

Posted on: 10:08 am, May 6, 2012, by , updated on: 10:36am, May 6, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It’s often called the city’s de facto segregation line, but city and congressional leaders, along with area residents hope a new bridge on Troost Ave. will act as a symbol to affect change in that area.

The bridge was dedicated at a ceremony Saturday.

It’s located in the Green Impact Zone where federal stimulus money is pushed into targeted areas of the city for projects.

Project managers say it cost $13.5 million to update the bridge.  They said that entails a glass panel, a stainless steel panel with LED lights, improved walkways and roads, and a lot of landscaping.

It’s exactly what U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said the area needs both physically and symbolically.

“If there is anything needed on Troost, it’s a bridge, bridging a white area and a black community with water and greenery,” said Cleaver, D-Kansas City.

Troost Ave. has been one of historic debates in the community. It’s often thought of a the dividing segregation line.  So could a simple bridge, really affect change? Mayor Sly James seems to think so.

“It’s a symbol. And it’s a symbol that hopefully translates into a psychology and the psychology should be something that joins things together,” James said.

Residents like Charlene Johnson who braved the heat for this event, said they agree.

“They won’t be afraid to walk around because they’ll be more people around here. Right now there isn’t anybody really moving around,” said Johnson.

Another resident, Eva Thomas said it’ll open up the street and make it more accessible for those like her who use the road often.

“If you rode the bus, you had to go around and put you out of your way and so now that it’s open, it’s real nice and the people have planted tulips all up and down here. It’s a beautiful spot now,” said Thomas.

But others like Ethel Williams said while it is a beautiful design, there is much more that needs to be done in that area alone.

“What are they going to do about the abandon houses, the houses falling down, when are they going to tear them down. We’ve been calling for three or four years and they’re still standing,” said Williams.

Project managers said there is another phase that will include the pedestrian walkway construction under the bridge that will begin shortly.

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