Developer plans to connect KCK and KCMO by giving old Kaw River bridge new life

KANSAS CITY -- It connects Kansas and Missouri, and now a developer is dreaming up a tall order for the Kaw River Bridge.

The plans focus on a railroad bridge that is more than 100 years old. Mike Zeller hopes to breathe new life into the area by creating something that's never been done before now.

The bridge has been sitting vacant for more than 40 years. Broken wood and vines are covering the old Kaw River Bridge, but now it's getting a much needed revamping.

"What we're going to do is combine a New York City-like high line trail with native plants and arts, with a Kansas City food hall, with a swinging venue, and it's all going to be out here 40 feet above the Kansas River," Zeller said.

Zeller said he has a dream to connect Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, and give people who visit a unique experience right on the river. He plans to use cantilevers to expand the 18 foot width of the bridge to 30 feet on each side.

"There's a lot of creativity and economic energy building in Kansas City, Kansas, and I think this partnership project with Kansas City, Missouri, right here on the state line is a good example of that, and can transmit a lot of that energy into Kansas City, Kansas," Zeller said.

John Stephens, president & CEO of Port KC, agrees and said connecting the cities will have a positive effect on both sides of the state line.

"It is right next to the HyVee Arena, which draws tens of thousands of people. There's new apartments going up in the area. There's breweries and distilleries," Stephens said. "I really think the West Bottoms has a lot of momentum and this hopefully will continue to expand the momentum there and in the adjoining Argentine neighborhood."

KCK is looking at this as a creative way for people to get across the bridge by foot or bike and hopes to start by making it a trail way.

"We've vetted this project with all the commissioners, and looking through all the different options that we can come up with to find a way to put some public money into this specifically for the trail so it can be really a connective public benefit," Zeller said.

Zeller said if everything goes according to plan they hope to start construction in the fall and opening day will be around July 4, 2020.

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