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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An area by the Missouri River in downtown Kansas City will soon look a lot different.

Crews used heavy equipment to begin demolishing several old buildings near W. 4th and Washington streets Tuesday morning. It’s all part of the early work for the new Buck O’Neil Bridge.

The Missouri Department of Transportation said traffic isn’t being impacted by the work in this area, but other construction will impact drivers as crews prepare to build the new bridge.

“Buildings are going to come down. Streets are going to be rerouted,” MoDOT’s Deputy Project Director James Pflum said. “It’s really about being aware of traffic patterns and planning ahead before you make your commute.”

MoDOT said crews will demolish a total of six buildings to make room for the bridge over the Missouri River. The buildings on the demolition list are not eligible for historic designation.

“Each building will take a couple weeks to demo,” Pflum said.

In the coming days, a crane will tackle the billboard on top of the brick building near 5th and Broadway. Then the white building across the street will fall by force.

Tom Neff came down to check out the damage. He has a background in restoring old buildings.

“My heart breaks when I see old buildings coming down, particularly in the heart of old town Kansas City Missouri,” Neff said. “I knew these buildings well enough to know that none of them were deemed eligible for the register.”

Crews expect to begin work on the new $220 million Buck O’Neil Bridge project in 2022. In February 2021, the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission selected Massman Co., Clarkson Construction Co. and HNTB Corporation for the project. All of the companies are from Kansas City.

The new bridge is expected to open in fall 2024.