Although a $220 million replacement project spells troubled waters for the existing Buck O’Neil Bridge, Kansas City officials and other interested parties could be nearing a more serious look at salvaging the 65-year-old structure for a linear park.
And more local architects, including Confluence and Arnold Imaging, have joined Hoet Landscape Architecture in visually interpreting the different pedestrian and public uses a repurposed bridge could support.
Chris Cline, a senior principal at Confluence, said he spent a lot of time climbing around the Buck O’Neil Bridge while completing an aesthetic lighting project in the early 2000s, during his time at HNTB — an effort he says gave him a “special affinity” for saving it.
“Downtown has doubled its population, and there’s not a lot of great public space yet to serve those growing needs,” he told the Kansas City Business Journal. “The best place to watch the sunrise and sunset in Downtown would be on this bridge. … There are so many potential opportunities to program this bridge with lots of different festivals and events.”
Included in Confluence’s concept are food trucks, seating areas, park space, performance stage structures, pollinator gardens and play areas for younger visitors.
A different overhead vision by Hoet includes a bandstand, dog park, sports court, hammock lounge and lawn games. Depending on how the approaches to the bridge are handled, its deck could provide as much as 80,000 square feet for new uses.