Replacing the Buck O’Neil Bridge is a chance to reconnect neighborhoods

Local and state government officials are proposing three options for replacing the Buck O’Neil Bridge over the Missouri River in Downtown, along with an option to not build at all. This bridge is part of a bigger vision called Beyond the Loop that studied the transformative impact on the Downtown Loop, River Market, and Columbus Park neighborhoods if we rethink how our highways work Downtown.  

Independence Avenue imagined as a Complete Street through the River Market.

The Beyond the Loop study identified feasible strategies to achieve the following changes:

  • Remove the Downtown Loop’s north leg, I-70, reconnecting the River Market with the rest of Downtown,
  • Re-use this land for development, expanding the City’s tax base, reconnecting downtown neighborhoods, and providing opportunities for new housing, jobs, open space and other new uses,
  • Lower Route 9 to street level, removing the big wall that separates Columbus Park from the River Market,
  • Restore Independence Avenue as a local street through the River Market,
  • Get freight and pass-through traffic off of local streets and out of residential and mixed-use neighborhoods, and
  • Improve regional connectivity with a direct connection from Highway 169 to I-35.
  • Reduce traffic on Burlington and Oak Streets, supporting their transformation from high speed highways into complete, multimodal, mixed use corridors.

Route 9 brought down to street level, reconnecting the River Market and Columbus Park.

We recommend either the West or Central Alternatives

Both of these options are compatible with the region’s bigger vision for Beyond the Loop, including highway removal and reconnecting neighborhoods. The West Alternative would do the most to re-connect parts of the River Market that are currently separated. 

All options will likely require removal of some existing buildings, but the West or Central Alternatives provide many more benefits for generations to come.

We do NOT recommend the Adjacent Alternative or any of its variations.

While this is the least expensive option, it is not compatible with the regional consensus for Beyond the Loop. It would be generations before we again have the opportunity to remove a highway that slices through Downtown, reconnect neighborhoods to each other, and advance regional goals for sustainability, economic development, and quality of life.

The “No Build” option is always included as a baseline against which to compare other options. We do not recommend this either, as it would not provide any way to add bike/ped access to the current bridge.

View the Online Public Meeting and Take the Survey

At this time MoDOT is only offering an online public meeting, and no opportunity to talk to in person about the project. After reviewing the options, be sure to take the survey and share your input.


Posted in Advocacy, Bicycling, BikeWalkKC News, KCMO Central-South, Local, News, Northland, Planning, Safe Routes to School, Transit, Walking.