KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The countdown begins as the Missouri Department of Transportation plans to close a busy stretch of highway into downtown.

The southbound lanes of U.S. 169 Highway will close from the Downtown Airport to 5th Street beginning Feb. 6. The closure will be in place until the new Buck O’Neil Bridge opens late next year.

During that time, crews will work to tie the new bridge into the existing highway and the new flyover ramps to Interstate 35.

The closure is expected to impact 50,000 drivers a day commuting from the Northland.

It will also impact the Downtown Airport for anyone flying in for the NFL Draft or other Kansas City events over the next two years.

“I look at it as a good thing because Kansas City has a lot of big things coming to it,” Jason Pflum with MoDOT said.

“The other bad thing is that infrastructure breaks down over time. Bridges wear out. The Buck O’Neil Bridge right now is 70 years old. We did a rehab 5 years ago on it and that was to get us to this point. We do the best we can with the funding we have, but unfortunately sometimes we have to plan around these things.”

The closure means other bridges will see an influx of traffic in the coming days and months.

FOX4’s Nick Vasos has detour options in the above video.

Kansas City’s Mid-America Regional Council is encouraging drivers to consider alternate transportation options during the bridge closure.

“The bridge closure will impact many people but provides an opportunity for residents to help reduce the number of vehicles on the road by carpooling, biking or ridesharing,” Rachel Krause, RideshareKC program outreach coordinator, said.

“As commuters explore different routes from the Northland to downtown Kansas City, we invite them to consider sustainable transportation options. If you have to change your commute route, now is a good time to change your commute method to a greener way.”

For more information on transportation options, call 816-842-7433 or visit the RideshareKC website where you can submit a form for us to contact you. Carpool matches can be found on the website RideshareKC.org or on the mobile app.