I-70 into Kansas City remains closed Friday morning while MoDOT continues to inspect bridge

UPDATE 1/14 at 11:45 a.m. — MoDOT officials will give a live update at 1 p.m. as I-70 westbound into Kansas City remains closed. They will “provide updates on the damaged caused to the bridge, the repairs needed for the reopening of the bridge and possible timetable of the reopening.”

You can watch that update <a href=”https://www.kctv5.com/ott/livestream/watch-modot-gives-update-as-i-70-into-kansas-city-remains-closed-after-deadly-fire/video_25b12490-4151-11ea-b117-5b58714e2b4c.html” target=”_blank”>live on KCTV5.com</a> and on the KCTV5 Facebook page.

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — Interstate 70 westbound into Kansas City remains blocked off Friday at 18th Street while state crews continue to assess damage from a Thursday morning fire that killed a homeless person.

The Missouri Department of Transportation put out an alert to drivers notifying them that they should exit I-70 westbound at the Interstate 435 interchange at Mile Marker 8 to get around the closure.

Those who continue westbound on I-70 past that point are eventually diverted onto the 18th Street exit, where they will have to head westbound on 18th Street, then northbound on Prospect Avenue before getting back on the interstate toward downtown.

Kansas City firefighters responded around 6 a.m. Thursday to a large structure on fire under the I-70 bridge over Truman Road. Around 7 a.m., after human remains were found at the scene of the fire, firefighters called Kansas City police to the scene to investigate. Foul play was not immediately suspected.

I-70 westbound into the city has been shut down ever since, with MoDOT crews concerned about the structural integrity of the bridge over the fire.

A statement released by MoDOT says:

Motorists are advised that westbound Interstate 70 near 18th St. will remain closed until further notice due to an early morning fire underneath the bridge. Missouri Department of Transportation staff are inspecting the bridge to determine the damage and potential needed repairs.Westbound I-70 motorists traveling out of Missouri should exit I-70 at the Interstate 435 interchange at mile marker 8 to get around the closure. All lanes of eastbound I-70 remain open. For local traffic only, westbound I-70 travelers can continue as far as the 18th street exit to get to area neighborhoods.

Fires at encampments have previously caused structural damage to a bridge in Kansas City. In 2015, a fire under the Beardsley Road Bridge damaged concrete and bent two bridge girders. It cost $400,000 to repair.

A second fire at the same bridge in 2018 cost $2 million to repair. The second fire caused significant damage to the concrete piers and bent five bridge girders.

More information about potential repairs to the bridge near Truman Road and I-70 is expected later Friday after crews can complete a full assessment.

“Certainly we understand the impacts of closing I-70 near downtown,” said MoDOT Kansas City District Office Assistant District Engineer Matt Killion. “We really want to make sure the bridge is safe for all travelers. That’s our number one priority.”