By Jill Draper
The new Kenneth Road bridge over the Blue River at the border of Missouri and Kansas opened to traffic on December 4. This long-awaited project links Holmes Road and the Loch Lloyd community with 151st Street in Johnson County, a crossing that had been closed for more than a decade.
“It provides a much needed connection,” said Mac Andrew, former director of both the Jackson County and Johnson County public works departments. “It just took too long. It was complicated to get all the entities together and obtain the funding.”
The new 365-foot-long bridge features two lanes of traffic and a sidewalk separated by a railing. Clarkson Construction Co. submitted the winning bid of approximately $2.8 million last year, according to Andrew, who now is executive director of the National Utility Contractors Association.
Although it’s a simple design, there were many players involved—the project was a joint venture of KCMO, Grandview, Jackson County, Overland Park and the Village of Loch Lloyd. Kansas City officials also noted the delay was caused by a holdup in the transfer of land from the Blue River Parkway. Since Jackson County used federal funds to help acquire the park, the removal of some land for the bridge embankment, roadway realignment and temporary easements triggered an environmental review.
The Kenneth Road crossing experienced a double whammy in the last 25 years. The original one-lane bridge closed in 1996 after it was damaged beyond repair by a truck. Then in 2008 another truck hauling concrete struck its temporary replacement—a portable one-lane, wooden-planked military structure known as a Bailey Bridge.
Andrew had acquired the Bailey Bridge as a public works director and donated it to the Kenneth Road project in 2008. The portable bridge now sits in a Grandview storage area waiting for its next deployment—it will be reinstalled over a creek near President Truman’s historic farmhouse, he said.