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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Bars, coffee shops, events, and even ziplining will soon open on an old railroad bridge.

Developers behind the Rock Island Bridge project will begin working on the project Monday. Equipment is in place and the entire area is fenced off for safety.

Crews built the Rock Island Bridge in 1905. It was used to get cattle in and out of Kansas City’s West Bottoms.

Soon, the bridge will serve an entirely new purpose.

“The project cost is going to come in around $12 million. We don’t like to think so much of building as remodeling,” Mike Laddin, Flying Truss, LLC, said.

A public-private philanthropic partnership is being used to pay for the project, according to Laddin.

This is how the funding breaks down:

  • The Unified Government will pay $2 million. The investment will be repaid by taxes collected on the bridge.
  • Investors who will get a return on their investment
  • Philanthropic investment because 65% of the space on the bridge is dedicated to public open access space.

Laddin says people should visualize a park on a bridge with large kiosks for businesses and restaurants.

There are also plans to have paths where people can walk and bike across the Kansas River. A zipline will also operate off the Rock Island Bridge when it opens.

“This is a rapidly developing neighborhood. Somera Road is down in the West Bottoms. It’s about a half-billion dollar project. This is really the last part of the central city that’s starting to see development and also, it’s a great benefit to Wyandotte County,” Laddin said.

Connecting the bridge to The West Bottoms and Wyandotte County, means a 5 mile trail to the river will become a 20 mile trail over the river for cyclists and pedestrians.

Developers hope to have the project complete and a grand opening set for the Spring of 2024.