The Missouri Department of Transportation held a special ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday to celebrate the completion of the new U.S. 69 River Bridge over the Missouri River between Platte County, Mo. and Wyandotte County, Ks.
“Driving over a bridge is easy, building one is not,” said Kathy Rose, Mayor of Riverside, Missouri.
Construction on the new bridge began in fall 2014 and the project was completed in March 2017. Vehicle traffic began in December 2016. The bridge replacement project cost $79 million and came under budget by 0.5%. MoDOT and KDOT split the cost of the bridges.
Kathy Rose, Mayor of Riverside, Missouri, took a moment to reflect on the bridges past. The southbound Route 69 Bridge, commonly referred to as the historic Fairfax Bridge, was built in 1933. The northbound Route 69 Bridge, commonly referred to as the Platte Purchase Bridge, was built in 1957.
“Those beautiful truss bridges helped build this region by moving people, materials and goods for decades,” Rose said. “I believe in celebrating successes big and small. This bridge, and what it means for our communities, is a big success.”
In addition to the nearly 200 people in attendance for the special occasion, there were several classic cars lined across the new bridge with some antique models representing the time period when the old bridges were constructed. It was a great turnout for an infrastructure project coordinated through multiple government agencies, two levees, the Fairfax Industrial Association, a railroad, organizations, businesses and of course, the Mighty MO.
“Two states, two cities – we knew this project would be a big one,” says Catherine Patrick, KDOT’s State Transportation Engineer. “Our state depends on infrastructure and our goal was to replace the two bridges with one. It’s a great project and I thank you all for the team work.”
MoDOT says the designer-build contractor, American Bridge Company and Garver, had to obtain more than 70 environmental and construction permits based on their design.
“This is one of the best partnerships I’ve ever seen,” says Gregg Smith, Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission Chair. “This job was without conflict. We developed a relationship that started all the way to this ribbon cutting.”
The Fairfax and Platte Purchase bridges were built to accommodate the type, size, and weight of vehicles at the time of construction, and were not designed for the high volume and heavy weight limits of truck traffic that you typically find today within the heavy industrial zone where these bridges are located. Narrow lanes and load limitations restrict the use of each bridge by overweight and oversized vehicles. Because of their age, both structures require frequent maintenance and costly repairs, causing motorists further delay.
“Today, there are approximately 150 businesses in Fairfax. The opening of this newly constructed bridge will continue to play a vital role in connecting residents throughout the metro area, like it did in the past, to employment opportunities that ultimately help improve the quality of life for families like mine,” said Unified Government Commissioner, Melissa Bynum.
Commissioner Gayle Townsend couldn’t have agreed more. The new U.S. 69 Missouri River bridge will continue to provide access to more than 10,000 jobs for employees who commute on a daily basis to work their shifts in the history Fairfax District at plants like the GM Fairfax Assembly Plant, Kellogg’s, Exxon Mobil, Magellan Pipe Line and the CertainTeed Fiberglass to name just a few. The newly constructed bridge also has an added feature. There’s a 4,580 foot pedestrian bike trail that travels from Kindleberger Road to the Argosy Casino Parkway Roundabout. It connects to the Missouri Riverfront Trail and the Line Creek Trail on the Missouri side.
“When you look up the word bridge in the dictionary, it’s defined as a structure carrying a road, path, railroad, or canal across a river, ravine, or other obstacle. While this newly completed US 69 Missouri River bridge definitely fits into this definition, I see it even more than that. You see to me, bridges bring people and communities together. They play a vital role in improving the quality of life for us all. Bridges allow us to reach schools, health facilities, airports, jobs and new markets for our products.”
MoDOT plans to donate the plaques that identified each bridge to the City of Riverside and to the City of Kansas City, Kansas. The old bridges were both demolished in January 2016.