KDOT Looking to repair or replace 18th Street Bridge





Argentine community views 18th Street Bridge replacement study





The 18th street Bridge in KCK over the Kansas River has seen better days. With thousands of vehicles traveling north and south for over 6 decades it’s taking a tow on the structure of the bridge.



BY DEBRA DeCOSTER


The 18th street highway bridge over the Kansas River in Kansas City, Kansas was built in 1959. It has served the community for 60 years, but age and weather conditions have caused corrosion and deterioration on the steel trusses that support the bridge. The bridge has undergone numerous rehabilitations, including a $5 million-dollar renovation in 2018.


The 18th Street bridge is one of the few remaining deck truss bridges on the state highway system, but repairs have become costly and the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) feel it is time to look at replacing a section of the bridge. Although final costs have not been determined at this time, an estimated cost could have the new bridge construction coming in around $65 million dollars.


KDOT held a community informational meeting in early August at the Joe E. Amayo Community Center in Kansas City, Kansas regarding replacing the 18th Street Bridge from Steele Road interchange to Kansas Avenue (K-32) in Wyandotte County.


Community members of the Argentine neighborhood attended the informal session to view the plans and ask questions of KDOT members.


“At this time, we are focusing on the bridge area over the river,” said Ben Ware, KDOT Road Design Leader and Project Manager.


The 18th Street Bridge Replacement study purpose is to determine a solution for replacement of the bridge since continued maintenance of the structure is no longer cost effective.


Still under discussion is the alternatives of how they will handle the traffic during the work. Photo boards were on hand at the meeting showing people what each alternative would look like and how it would affect the traffic flow or if they would have to shut down the bridge completely.


Choices currently are-- On-Alignment, full East shift or partial West shift. The pros for On-Alignment- it would limit impacts to adjacent properties, limits environmental impacts, and would be the lowest cost alternative, but it would require full closure of 18th Street during construction. A full East Shift that would improve the river bridge configuration and still could maintain traffic during construction. The cons to the full East shift are it would require additional improvements along the corridor, if would have significant impacts to adjacent properties, and safety and travel time concerns during construction should incidents occur in the work zone.


The partial West shift would maintain traffic during construction on 18th street. It would lower the impact to adjacent properties, but it too would require additional improvements along the corridor. Considering the West shift, it presents a challenge for the river bridge configuration and it would also have safety and travel time concerns during construction.


“If we do the On-Alignment we would replace the bridge and it would be closed to traffic for up to two years. If we shift it East or West, we could leave the traffic on existing, it would be head to head two lane traffic, while we work on the new lane,” said Ware.


According to Ware, they did extensive repairs on the existing steel trusses in 2018. The current repairs bought the bridge another five to ten years before it would need to have work done again, but the KDOT department knows it would be advantageous for them to improve the bridge with updated materials and not have to do on-going extensive repairs every decade.


“Improvements in the materials that are used today would help the life of the bridge. They use an integral beam instead of a lot of truss members, the steel girder or concrete beam would hold up better than the trusses,” he said.


KDOT members decided to move forward with a replacement plan and not wait until they had to replace the existing structure.


“We want community input on what they would like to see, if we close it for two years, or if we do the lane shift, it will be really narrow for a period of time. If there is a need to leave it open, we want them to know, here is what that will look like with the bridge and driving across it,” he said.


During the informational session, Desi Coleman studied the boards and wondered how each option would affect her daily drive into the Argentine community.


“I am trying to understand what is going on. I don’t live in the area, but I travel into the area several times a day. One of my questions would be is when they did the repairs last year why didn’t they completely fix it then, why did they do a five to ten-year fix?” said Coleman.


After attending the meeting, Mario Escobar liked what he saw on the drawings.


“I think it will be a big improvement not just for the Argentine area but for the city itself. It is long overdue. As I talked with the KDOT planners here I asked them to consider putting in lighting across the bridge because as you drive on it at night, it is really dark. Also, I hope they will put in bike lanes to make the community accessible for everyone,” said Escobar.


Bicycle and Pedestrian improvements on the 18th Street bridge are being considered in the study. KDOT is working with the Unified Government to identify improvements to bicycle and pedestrian accommodations in the area considering the Mid-America Regional (MARC) policies and the Unified Government’s Master Plan.


Escobar hopes that when they begin to work on the bridge that they do not shut it down entirely.


“I hope that they can leave it partially open and not have it closed for two years. I am glad that they are getting input from the community,” he said.