The future of Interstate 229 in St. Joseph is getting closer to being determined as the Missouri Department of Transportation focuses on final options for the bridge that borders the city’s west side.
At the 2019 Northwest Missouri Freight Summit on Thursday, MoDOT showed off two alternatives to the current double-decked bridge that were favored by an advisory committee over other plans.
Both options would see the bridge taken out of the skyline.
MoDOT District Planning Manager Shannon Kulisek said the bridge is starting to cost more than it may be worth.
“The problem with the bridge as it is right now, is that it’s in poor condition,” he said. “We have to do an investment in the next, probably, five years to rehab it. That’s a $50 million investment and that’s only going to give us 30 to 40 years and then we’re back to where we are now.”
The first option shown, called the Main and Second Street alternative, would involve connecting I-229 to Main Street coming from the north and creating a new, shaped road between KCP&L electric boxes and the railroad tracks near Riverfront Park that would connect with Second Street, where new connections would be created to take drivers to the stockyards.
“The other option, called the Roundabout alternative, would be similar, but would rebuild two ramps at Francis and Felix streets with a roundabout and a new road around Second Street that would go south to connect to the U.S. Highway 36 interchange and Stockyards Expressway.
Kulisek said I-229 North is not heavily trafficked by drivers going out of state and truck drivers.
“In reality, the interstate doesn’t really function as an interstate, it functions as a local pass-through road, and this would make that section of roadway more compatible with the traffic use as it is right now,” he said.
St. Joseph Metropolitan Planning Organization Transit Planning Manager Chance Gallagher said the MPO will be a part of the process for selecting a final alternative.
“It’s going to be a matter of: Is the city OK with it, and the MPO and MoDOT?” she said. “Some of those (alternatives) that go through the city streets, it could be a little bit of an added burden. So, we’ll have to look into that a little bit.”
Gallagher said the MPO’s Technical Committee is scheduled to vote on which option they prefer next week.
Thursday’s Freight Summit was the second hosted by St. Joseph after last year’s, which focused on the port and economic development. This year, the topics included infrastructure and human trafficking.