Construction begins on I-435
By Brad Lucht and John Sharp
Preparation for a two-year long project to renew the I-435 South Loop Link has begun. Work began last week with the stockpiling at Holmes Road of material for the retaining walls.
The $75 million project will replace bridges and add another lane for both east- and westbound traffic on I-435 between State Line Rd. and where the highway now narrows west of the Three Trails Crossing.
The project includes replacing the bridges over Holmes and Wornall; rehabilitating the bridges at 104th St. and over the Blue River; constructing 12-foot inside shoulders, taller concrete barrier walls and longer merge lanes; and increasing the vertical clearance under the Wornall bridge.
No Traffic Disruption
Minimizing traffic disruptions is a major goal of the project, according to Perry Allen, Jr., project director for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).
“This is going to be the most painless major interstate project done in Kansas City in recent history,” he said. “When I had the opportunity to work with a team to put this together, I said the most important thing is not to screw with the traffic, whatever we do.
He explained there will be some off peak closures of one lane at a time in each direction, but that will still allow three through lanes of traffic each way. He said four lanes will remain open in each direction during peak traffic periods.
“[The construction workers] will be gone and allow the commuters to come through in the morning, and in the afternoon going in the other direction. They’re going to make sure we have all four lanes for peak time,” assured Allen. “For the most part it’s night work.”
A lane will be added in each direction from State Line to near Grandview Road. Upon completion, traffic will flow on five 12-foot lanes instead of four.
To allow for more breakdown room, the inside shoulder will be widened to 12 feet all the way from State Line to the Blue River bridge.
“The existing inside median doesn’t allow room for somebody that breaks down to get off the road,” Allen explained. When that kind of breakdown happens, traffic gets backed up. The new inside breakdown lane will help mitigate that problem.
Allen said one of the first most visible phases of the project will be reconstructing ramp entrances to allow left turns onto the on ramps at Holmes. The existing ramps that loop in the northeast and southwest quadrants of the interchange will be closed.
“The bridges at Wornall and Holmes are worn completely out,” Allen warns. Single span bridges will be built in their place. No more columns. No more barriers. Just a bridge held up by retaining walls running perpendicular to the highway. “It’s going to look like a big rectangular opening,” Allen said.
A new ADA-compliant sidewalk will be installed from Carondelet Drive, underneath the highway bridge, and over to the bridge at Indian Creek where the walking and biking trail appears.
“It will allow people on the south side to have safe passage, instead of going over to Wornall,” Allen explained. “Folks on both the Missouri side and Leawood will be glad that that’s connected up.”
An open house to learn about the project was held Thursday, February 22, at Center Middle School, 326 E. 103rd St. Guests took a look at the drawings and project timeline and asked questions.
The project will be constructed as a design-build project by the team of Radmacher Brothers Excavating, a Pleasant Hill highway construction company, and Wilson & Company, an engineering design firm with offices near the Holmes and I-435 interchange at 800 E. 101st Ter.