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Construction Proceeds on Dramatic Kansas City Bridge

Thu September 17, 2009 - Midwest Edition
Richard Miller

One of the prominent geographic features of Kansas City, Mo., is the Missouri River which dissects the city in two, requiring multiple bridge crossings. In Kansas City alone, there are three railroad bridges and six highway bridges crossing the river at various points.

One of these highway bridges is the Paseo Bridge which carries interstate highways 35 and 29, along with U.S. 71 across the river. Opened in August, 1954, the four-lane suspension bridge is 1,831 ft. (558 m) long and currently handles 102,000 vehicles per day.

Maintained by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), the bridge received substantial rehabilitation in 1984 and 2005. According to Thomas Skinner, design engineer of MoDOT, the rehabilitation in 2005 included a new driving surface, new paint, barrier rails and bearings. Additionally, all the suspension cables were wrapped in weather proofing.

Despite the recent rehabilitation, the current bridge is nearing the end of its life expectancy with projected traffic volume to increase to 145,000 per day by the year 2031.

MoDOT proceeded with an aggressive upgrade to this busy traffic corridor by initiating the kcICON project, a $245 million interstate highway and bridge expansion. When completed in 2011 the expansion will include a new six-lane cable stayed bridge, all new pavement the entire 4.7 mi. (7.6 km) length of the corridor and five improved intersections. Five bridges will be widened and eleven new bridges will be constructed.

This new Christopher S. Bond Bridge is named after U.S. Senator Christopher “Kit” Bond of Missouri, who was instrumental in securing federal monies for this project.

According to Skinner, the new Missouri River bridge will be a two-span, cable-stayed structure with a 550-ft. (168 m) main span and a side span of 451-ft. (138 m). High performance pre-cast-concrete also will be utilized to give the structure a life span of at least 100 years.

Additionally, the bridge will have further capacity to add an additional traffic lane, along with a shared bicycle/pedestrian lane.

The bridge will have aesthetic lighting, including 1,700 ft. (518 m) of necklace light along each of the two exterior girders, along with cannon lighting which will illuminate each of the 40 suspending cables.

Skinner, stated that MoDOT took extensive steps to engage public discourse in planning and also to provide timely construction updates. Initially, MoDOT formed a 12-member Community Advisory Group (CAG) consisting of elected officials, civic and neighborhood associations to solicit the public’s priorities for the project.

The CAG named the project, assisted in project goals and through the Request for Proposal process, crafted the corridor and river bridge aesthetic requirements. Additionally, the CAG assisted MoDOT with numerous community issues including:

• Communicating the concerns of affected municipalities, businesses, homeowners and commuters.

• Establishing a workforce development program to increase the number of minorities, women and economically disadvantaged persons working on the project.

• Ensuring a bridge design that can accommodate a future bicycle and pedestrian facility.

• Assist with traffic management during the construction.

To demonstrate to the region CAG’s critical role in the success of the project, MoDOT awarded CAG 20 out of 100 total project points to evaluate the architectural style and bridge design aesthetics proposed by the competing teams — a level of design-build project involvement never before attempted by a state department of transportation. This is a model that will influence other future MoDOT projects and other departments of transportation across the country.

In May 2009, the project team received the 2009 PRIDE Award from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association-Transportation Development Foundation for its community outreach and partnering efforts.

According to Skinner, the project’s website,, is a critical tool that includes RSS feeds, project web cams, to serve as a comprehensive source of information to the community. kcICON also employs the following communication tactics and tools:

• Project briefings, presentations and tours

• Information booths at regional events and festivals

• Community meetings

• 24-hour telephone hotline

• Contact database and issue log

• Variable message boards

• Weekly email construction updates

• Quarterly electronic newsletter

• Customer satisfaction surveys

• Traveling kiosks

• Press conferences, media interviews, editorial briefings, press releases

• Utilize advertising, radio, print, Internet, billboards and gasoline pump toppers

Two contractors bid on the project. The successful bidder for this project was Paseo Corridor Constructors, a joint venture partnership of Clarkson Construction Company, Massman Construction Co., both of Kansas City, Mo., and Kiewit Construction of Omaha, Neb.

The design-build responsibilities are being supplied by Parsons of Pasadena, Calif. and TranSystems of Kansas City, Mo.

Skinner states that river traffic is not being restricted during construction. Navigation will be open except for brief periods when the cable stay edge girders, floor beams and pre-cast deck panels are installed. All construction activities are coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard.

An ongoing issue with the construction of the Kit Bond Bridge is addressing the Missouri River channel degradation. Constant channel degradation in Kansas City caused record low water levels in 2003 and 2004 and continues to be a concern for many water users in and near Kansas City.

Skinner stated to counter this issue, the bridge supports for the Kit Bond Bridge are founded on concrete shafts that penetrate 28 ft. (8.5 m) into sound bedrock, which is located approximately 80 ft. (24.4 m) below the river surface. The river channel can degrade to the top of the bedrock and the bridge will be safe and structurally sound.

The new highway’s impact on its urban setting will be mitigated by the installation of 150,000 sq. ft. (13,936 sq m) of retaining walls and 70,000 sq. ft. (6,503 sq m) of sound walls.

The new bridges will utilize 24,000 linear ft. (7,315 m) of piling, 6,000 tons (5,443 t) of structural steel and 28,000 linear ft. (8,534 m) concrete piling. When finished, the entire project will install 36,000 cu. yds. (27,524 cu m) of concrete and 400,000 cu. yds. (305,822 cu m) of contractor provided fill material.

The existing Paseo Bridge will remain open during the entire project. The contractor will maintain two lanes of the I-29/35 corridor in both directions during morning and evening peak travel times. Commercial traffic will not be restricted during construction but access to some ramps will be temporarily closed during this period.

Once traffic is moved to the new pavement and bridge the Paseo Bridge will be removed. The U.S. Coast Guard’s bridge permit requires the bridge be removed when it is no longer used for transportation purposes. It is anticipated that more than 6,000 tons (5,443 t) will be recycled during the demolition process. CEG

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