The Missouri Department of Transportation has kicked off work that will lead to a rebuilt intersection of Interstates 70 and 435, a maze of concrete on the doorstep of Eastern Jackson County navigated by more than 100,000 commuters every weekday.

The Missouri Department of Transportation has kicked off work that will lead to a rebuilt intersection of Interstates 70 and 435, a maze of concrete on the doorstep of Eastern Jackson County navigated by more than 100,000 commuters every weekday.

The work includes several projects aimed at ultimately improving commute times:

The most noticeable change is the addition of a third lane each way on I-70 from Blue Ridge Cut-Off to Manchester Trafficway. The work itself will slow things for commuters.


“A lot of what we’ve done at the Manchester bridge (on I-70 last year), you’re going to see again,” Linda Clark, assistant district engineer at MoDOT’s office in Lee’s Summit, said recently.

That $32 million project is to be done by late 2011 or early 2012. It’s being paid for with federal stimulus funds.

A second major change is designed to get some traffic off I-70 with a new “half diamond.” That means the addition of an exit from U.S. 40 onto northbound I-435 and an exit from southbound I-435 onto U.S. 40.


MoDOT points out that traffic gets jammed up at the left-hand-lane exit from I-435 onto I-70, as in when a driver comes south past 23rd Street and then turns east past the stadiums. With the half diamond, many drivers would get on 40 and take that to their destination with no need for I-70.

But first, contractors will replace the U.S. 40 bridge over I-435 and approach it the same way as the replacement of the Noland Road bridge over I-70 a few years ago – one fell swoop. The bridge will be taken out after July 4 and replaced by Labor Day, meaning that stretch of 40 will be closed for much of the summer.

That approach also will be used this coming winter with replacement of the George Brett Bridge, that is, Blue Ridge Cut-off over I-70. The bridge comes down as soon as the Chiefs wrap up their season and reopens before the Royals 2011 home opener.

 

On eastbound I-70, MoDOT plans a “collector distributor,” a lane just for exiting to Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums. Another example of that is on westbound I-435 on the Kansas side where a driver has to take the same exit to get onto either Roe or, a little farther on, Nall. There is no getting out of the lane once you get in. MoDOT says that will smooth traffic on game day.


Earlier this month, contractors started substantial deck work on bridges on eastbound I-70 from Van Brunt to downtown Kansas City. That work should be done by November. Next year, attention turns to several bridges on westbound I-70.