When the city of Independence closed 42nd Street to through traffic between Noland and Phelps roads in late January, city officials estimated it could about a year to replace the deficient culvert underneath and rebuild the road.

Now, City Manager Zach Walker says, the city might be able to shave some time off that. Barring any big surprises, he reported to the City Council last week, the city could have the road all clear by the end of the year.

City staff completed surveying the site and scheduled to begin design this, Walker said. An early estimate on the price tag: $400,000.

“We'll be able design most, if not all, of that in-house,” he said. “Over the past few years we've beefed up our engineering staff.”

Walker said that will save thousands in project costs, and the city should be able to get the project out for bid by the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. He added that the city is competing for a stormwater grant that could net $124,000 toward the project.

The project will be paid for with sales tax revenues.

The city closed the road above the culvert – about 500 feet east of Hocker Road – after a structural analysis report came back saying the culvert was failing enough that it couldn't be guaranteed to safely support traffic.

City Engineer Kati Horner said the culvert deficiency spanned the width of the road.

“The material used for that culvert is corrugated metal pipe, and it's past its useful life,” she said.

This particular culvert was inspected in November and raised enough concern that the city scheduled an engineer's structural analysis, which didn't happen immediately. The culvert had been monitored and could well have been replaced in the near future, but the engineer's report moved such a project to the top of the list as an emergency, said Rich Kemple, collection systems manager for the Water Pollution Control Department.

Normally, the project would have been designed and bid out before the city would need to close the road. In this case, the culvert failed well ahead of when the city anticipated, Horner and Kemple said.

“Projects don't come together fast to start with,” Horner said.

By comparison, when the Missouri Department of Transportation demolished the I-70 bridges last June – including near the culvert at Phelps Road – and reopened the new structures late in 2018, that came after more than a year of designing and planning the new bridges, bidding out the project and scheduling demolition.

“At the end of the day, if there are no new surprises with this,” Walker said, “it should be a simple replacement of the culvert, job site restoration with the road, and we should have that, again if no surprises, re-open by the end of the year.”