Hooray! The bridge is open

Published 1:00 am Sunday, February 19, 2012

Three years and much aggravation came to an end Monday when marching bands and politicians signaled the opening of the Washington Street bridge at Clark Street. The pomp and fanfare for a 315-foot bridge might have been a bit of overkill, but certainly residents and business owners near the bridge were playing a happy tune.

The bridge, built in 1929, was a main north-south thoroughfare between Interstate 20 and downtown. It had been closed since Jan. 29, 2009, after accelerating erosion on the banks supporting it threatened the span.

The project was expected to be completed in June 2011, but problems with soil, relocating utility lines and the historic Mississippi River flooding in the spring forced Kansas City Southern Railway to ask for extensions from the city. The opening Monday came 15 days ahead of the last extension deadline.

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The $8.6 million project was funded through a Federal Railroad Administration grant, a $1 million match by the city and $3.7 million in bond funds diverted from a proposed recreation complex on Fisher Ferry Road.

The finished product is a combined rail-tunnel and is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. Most importantly, it ends three years of detours and inconvenience for those living in and visiting the city.

We certainly are glad this ordeal has ended.