Kansas City, Mo. — Sen. Kit Bond is trying to secure an additional $50 million to replace a bridge spanning the Missouri River that is a major artery into downtown.
Although the 51-year-old Paseo Bridge already is undergoing $21 million in repairs, Missouri transportation officials have long believed the bridge needs to be replaced.
Before it closed earlier this year, the four-lane bridge, which carries Interstates 35 and 29, was the busiest of the three spans connecting downtown Kansas City to northern Kansas City and its suburbs.
The $50 million that Bond, R-Mo., put into a pending $286.5 billion transportation bill would be combined with the $195 million that the Missouri Department of Transportation has set aside for the bridge.
But specifics about the project - including how much it will cost and whether it will consist of building two smaller bridges or one large bridge - haven't been determined.
Pete Rahn, executive director of the Missouri Department of Transportation, said that the additional $50 million would make one massive bridge more likely.
"The significance of the $50 million from Senator Bond is the difference between a signature bridge, which Kansas City has been desirous of, and a more utilitarian bridge," Rahn said.
Transportation officials fear that with Kansas City north of the Missouri River and its suburbs expected to continue to grow, traffic problems could get bigger.
The new bridge should serve as many as 140,000 drivers a day by 2030, said department engineer Chris Redline. That compares with the current bridge's capacity of about 108,000 drivers a day.