Many, including Kansas City mayor, not happy with new design of Buck O’Neil Bridge

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — We’re about three years out from taking a ride across the new Buck O’Neil Bridge. The project is expected to cost $220 million.

The Missouri Department of Transportation shared fresh video from a bird’s-eye-view Wednesday. You can see it in the video player above.

Some folks, including Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, have already said they’re not in love with the look.

Designers will add a 10-foot pedestrian and bike lanes to the side of traffic. 

“Seems pretty cool,” said Reid Williams, who lives in the River Market. “I think it’s going to be very convenient.”

The design includes direct access to downtown and direct connections from Highway 169 to I-35.

Project Director Mary Miller said, right now, you must go thorough signals to get to I-35 and you won’t have to do that with the new design.

“Not having to get off at Broadway and take those signals across the river, it’s going to save them seven minutes getting home,” Miller said.

Some people who live and work near the River Market believe one change, which includes a new wall, could be a nuisance. It would make their commute a little longer.

If you’re heading north on Broadway, right now, you get the option to go into the right lane which takes you under the bridge and gives you access to 4th Street and 3rd Street. 

That would go away. The new design cuts off access from Broadway at the bridge. It shows a concrete retaining wall with a mural instead. 

“The wall could be like a little annoying because heading down Broadway is how I used to go to work,” Williams said. “It’s the only concern because maybe that can get a little congested because it can already get a little screwy in that area.”

“They’ll just have to go around an extra block to get there, but there is access from Third Street into the West Bottoms from the River Market,” Miller said. “We just realigned some of those roadways.”

The design drew criticism from Lucas on Twitter. He’s grateful to see the project moving but said he wants to retain as much of the old bridge as possible. 

“I love character,” Anabella Davis said. “Old bridges look really cool. So hopefully it won’t change that much.”

Miller said the project’s budget and height restrictions made that difficult. 

“So close to the airport that there are height restrictions,” Miller said. “So you couldn’t build anything that’s as tall as what’s existing right now, the existing Buck O’Neil Bridge.”

Work on the new bridge is expected to begin late summer. MoDOT hopes to have the new bridge completed by the end of 2024.

Miller said they’ve had several public input meeting over the last three years to talk about the design. Now, they’re moving forward, only asking for input on future mural projects.

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