KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — The Missouri Department of Transportation is hoping to reopen westbound Interstate 70 in Kansas City by rush hour Monday morning.
The interstate heading into the city has been shut down since Thursday morning because of a fire under the bridge at Truman Road that killed a homeless person. The fire caused severe damage to the bridge, and significant repairs will be needed before the interstate can reopen to westbound traffic.
Those repairs will be done over the weekend, and while MoDOT would like those repairs to be finished before Sunday night’s Chiefs playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the state’s goal is to reopen by rush hour Monday morning.
Whenever I-70 westbound opens back up, though, the center lane will be blocked off because of major damage. That will leave traffic to drive only in the left lane or right lane.
The Missouri Department of Transportation had 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.
“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.”