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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Democrats and Republicans, urban and rural Missourians have all joined together in a partnership that’s making a new Buck O’Neil Bridge a reality.

Cooperation among different interests across the region is being credited for helping Missouri break ground Wednesday on the construction of a new Missouri River crossing.

“This groundbreaking today is very special,” said Jackson County Executive Frank White. “We salute Buck and the barriers he broke for me and many other black ballplayers, his contributions to the Kansas City area. And it really has instilled a great sense of hope, pride in this city where we call home.”  

The new span is going to cost nearly $220 million and just a couple of years ago, local, state and federal political leaders weren’t sure where they’d get the money.

It took a lot of regional cooperation, with many local communities outside of Kansas City delaying or giving up their projects for a new bridge they recognized would benefit everyone.

The state even reworked its bond sales for hundreds of other bridge repairs across the Show-Me State to free up money for this one big project. And in the end, Missouri’s congressional delegation came through with $25 million in federal money for the project.

“When you really do set your mind to get things done and you partner to make things better for all Missourians, things like this happen,” Gov. Mike Parson said. “But it takes true partnership, it takes people willing to stay to the commitment.”

The current bridge was built in 1956 and carries about 50,000 vehicles a day, but traffic engineers say it’s near the end of its life.

Three Kansas City companies: Clarkson Construction, HNTB and the Massman Company all are part of the team that will build the new bridge, which is expected to open in 2024

The state also will spend $300,000 next year to study if the old bridge can still provide some benefits to the community.

Right now, the $220 million budgeted includes tear down costs for the current bridge.