Missouri DOT
Kansas City communities helped choose design and design-build team for new cable-stayed bridge.

Kansas City, Mo., hopes to have its own signature bridge open in June 2011.

The Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission on Nov. 14 awarded a design-build contract to Paseo Corridor Constructors, a partnership that includes Clarkson Construction and Massman Construction, both of Kansas City, Mo.; Kiewit Construction, Omaha; Parsons Corp.'s Chicago office and TranSystems Corp. of Kansas City, Mo.

Replacing the 54-year-old Paseo Bridge, the new crossing will have a 1,000-ft cable-stayed main span and a diamond-shaped, illuminated pylon rising 300 ft over the Missouri River.

The Christopher S. Bond Missouri River Bridge is the centerpiece of a $245-million project that will upgrade a four-mile stretch of Interstate 29-35 from four to six lanes as they enter and exit downtown Kansas City, Mo. The bridge design is the result of consultation with community groups that graded design and construction proposals beforehand. "It's a bottoms-up decision-making process," says Jim Anderson, chairman of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission, the governing board for the state's department of transportation. "We involved in the decision-making the stakeholders of the project–the community–like never before."

The winning team, which beat out a bid from American Bridge Co. of Coraopolis, Pa. and Walsh Construction, Chicago, will also build two 675-ft approach spans for the bridge, whose footings will sit on eight 11-ft-diameter drilled shafts drilled into bedrock. The 124-ft-wide deck will feature three northbound and three southbound lanes with an additional northbound auxiliary lane to facilitate flow between interchanges on either side. Located about halfway across the span, the tower–164 ft at its widest point, parallel to the deck–will be illuminated at night by a multi-colored LED display.

Anderson hopes the use of community groups in the selection process will become a "best practice." He says the system was used first on this bridge because of the high visibility of the project.

The design is considered well-suited for the site. "It's a design that respects the majesty of the river, that says the river isn't just an obstacle to get over," says Vincent Gauthier, executive director of the Port Authority of Kansas City, Mo., which was part of the group of community boards, businesses and agencies that graded the proposals. Each group looked at the element of the proposal that was pertinent to its interests, and submitted a grade to MDOT. The grades were totaled up, and the contractor selection was largely based on how well the bidders scored with the community. "The winning group scored the highest in pretty much every category," Gauthier says.

The current suspension bridge just upstream, which handles about 100,000 vehicles per day, will remain open during construction. Motorists will also face about three years of interchange and ramp closers and numerous detours. Tom Kellerman, a spokesman for Paseo Corridor Constructors, says design-build will save about two years and cut as much as $60 million from the overall project. Paseo Corridor faces penalties of $30,000 for each day the project finishes beyond a July 31, 2011 deadline. Kellerman and other project officials wouldn't disclose bonus amounts for finishing early.