Local officials still debating the future of I-229 double-decker bridge

After an hour and a half long work session Monday, the St. Joseph City Council decided to postpone their decision until after they get more information.

Posted: Sep 29, 2020 12:27 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) What will the I-229 double-decker bridge look like in the future, if there even is one?

After an hour and a half long work session Monday, the St. Joseph City Council decided to postpone their decision until after they get more information.

“We've just been directed to go back and study the situation one more time,” Bob Dempster, Chairman of the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) said. “It will probably be several more times.”

MoDOT originally proposed 19 alternatives to the current bridge.

Narrowed to seven, the plan half of city council found the most attractive was to keep the bridge as is.

The other half, liked the plan to tear the bridge down, open up the riverfront and create a roadway through the downtown.

“There's an attraction there because we can develop things that we can't with the double-decker bridge and we can open up the river view and each plan has its detractors,” Mayor Bill McMurray said.

That's also how the members of another regional transportation body were leaning.

MPO St. Joseph wasn't excited by any of MoDOT's plans.

“We understand that the bridge is too expensive to maintain, but we don’t want to do it halfway,” Dempster said.

City staff and local officials also wanted to take another look at the "Kansas Option."

The proposal is one of the most expensive, building a bridge across the river carving into the Kansas side which could open up more economic development to the airport and Rosecrans area.

“It would open up the riverfront, the northern part of the riverfront, it would also provide some access to Krug Park where we have lots of ideas about developing that into a concert venue,” McMurray said.

Round and round the discussion went for an hour and a half Monday as the city council attempted to narrow it down to one.

After splitting on which direction was best, they postponed a decision, sending it back to MPO to ensure that a decision that will cost tens of millions of dollars is the right one.

“This is going to affect generations to come in terms of how we get from here to there,” Dempster said.

The St. Joseph MPO's next meeting is scheduled October 4.

After they make a decision on the best option for the future of 229, it will then head back to the city council.

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