Pedestrians and bicyclists in the Kansas City area now can cross the wide Missouri River, thanks to years of cooperation, collaboration and the timely arrival of funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Last spring, the Heart of America Bridge began the transition from a motorist-only bridge to a multi-use Missouri river crossing with paths for bikes and pedestrians. That project opened to a crowd of bike, walking and running enthusiasts at 2 p.m. on Oct. 1.
The new accommodations include a barrier-separated bike and pedestrian path on Route 9 extending from 10th Avenue in North Kansas City to 3rd Street in Kansas City.
MoDOT retrofit the 8-year old bridge as part of already-scheduled bridge work. The department used existing pedestrian access to provide more opportunities for both foot and pedal traffic. Pedestrians need protection from vehicles that cross the bridge at high rates of speed. Casual cyclists are not always comfortable riding in motorist lanes that travel at a higher speed. Advanced cyclists will continue to ride in lanes following the rules of the road, but with greater exposure to traffic.
In tandem with this project, the Chouteau Bridge is also under rehabilitation.
When complete by 2010, the Chouteau and Heart of America bridges will help Kansas City achieve its goal of a phased network of 600 miles of on-street bicycle routes within the city.
For more information, check out the project page on www.modot.org/kc under "Major Projects."