KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Drivers will notice something missing from part of the downtown loop, and it’s going to be a huge improvement.

Crews removed orange barrels and blockades overnight. After restriping the road and changing road signs, they reopened Interstate 35 and at least one ramp leading to the interstate on the westside of the downtown loop.

The area closed nine months ago as part of the Buck O’Neil Bridge project. During that time, crews built a new retaining wall and a new 6th Street Bridge.

Crews continue to work on repairs to the bridge from Northbound I-35 to Westbound I-70. That area remains closed. Drivers cannot access Westbound I-70 on the loop. Only eastbound I-70 is open at this time.

For months, the project has bottlenecked traffic on I-35 and part of I-670 as thousands of drivers tried to navigate through the construction zone. Drivers were forced to either take the 12th Street exit or go east on I-670 through downtown.

Now that this phase of the project is complete, it will make it easier for drivers to reach the City Market, Columbus Park, and Interstate 70.

It will also lower congestion and make it faster for everyone to get into, and out of , downtown.

This is temporary, however. In February, MoDOT plans to close Southbound 169 Highway from the Downtown Airport to 5th Street. The area will stay closed for 18 months.

When the entire project is finished in about two years, Kansas City will have a new Buck O’Neil bridge connecting the northland to downtown.

The cost of the project is $220 million.

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