New $200 million Buck O'Neil Bridge projected to fuel regional growth

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Many are cheering Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's announcement Wednesday that Missouri will build a new Buck O'Neil Bridge.

City leaders believe a new crossing will help the entire region grow.

The state will combine $60 million from a bonding program for bridge repairs with $150 million in state and local money already identified to fully fund the $200 million project.

There are 44,000 vehicles a day that cross the Missouri River at the Buck O'Neil Bridge. And the state just spent $7 million in 2018 for a patch to keep the crossing open for another few years.

Many leaders agreed that the bridge is at the end of its life.

Construction isn't expected to begin for at least two more years, but will mean a lot of jobs and spur growth on both sides of the river.

"When you talk about what the Buck O'Neil Bridge means to commerce, interstate and intrastate commerce, it's a vital artery," said Jason Mendenhall, president of the Heavy Construction Laborers union.

"When you are talking about that type of volume being carried by vehicular traffic on a daily basis, we can’t sustain every few years another $7 million fix. This has to be replaced. It's going to be replaced. Our people are eager to go to work on it."

Drivers can also breathe a sigh of relief that the new bridge won't involve tolls, which had been discussed as a way to pay for it.

It also will be built alongside the existing bridge, allowing vehicles to continue to cross the river.

The huge project also might spur a reworking of downtown's North Loop, freeing up real estate downtown as ramps and roadways are eliminated.

On the north side of the bridge, there might be some re-engineering, working with the downtown airport and railroad to provide a smoother link to the Broadway Extension.

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