To enhance to the planned new U.S. 24 bridges over Delaware Street/Bess Truman Parkway, the city of Independence has been accepting applications for commissioned artwork that would be on the bridge retaining walls.

In its request for qualifications callout, the city says it envisions a Harry Truman theme for the west wall and a three trails/westward expansion theme for the east wall – six panels each – on a budget of $50,000 or less.

The callout was posted June 21, and statements of qualifications are due to the city next Wednesday, July 17. A selection committee will review the submissions determine a short list of up to three candidates within a few days. Those candidates are scheduled to present their proposals Aug. 1, and the committee will select the winner the next day, according to the city's timeline. The finished artwork will then be delivered to the city Dec. 30.

The U.S. 24 eastbound and westbound bridges will be replaced – one at a time – during the same time as the Truman Library & Museum's massive renovation after the library closes July 22. The Missouri Department of Transportation put the bridge project out for bid, and a spokesperson said the state's Highways and Transportation Commission will award the contract at its meeting today at the Farris Theatre in Richmond.

The 12 panels will be made of custom high-pressure laminate or powder-coated aluminum and will be 5-by-8 feet and either a half-inch or quarter-inch thick. They will be mechanically fastened to the wall and will also have an anti-graffiti coating.

The Truman panels will incorporate the famous photograph of Truman walking across the street in the Square and the following quote as the president returned home when he left office: “It's good to be back home, in what I call the center of the world – Independence, Missouri. I think it's the greatest town in the United States.”

Both walls will have a pedestrian walkway, and the city says it hopes the artwork will be “fun and lively,” enhance the experience of people entering or leaving the Library have “drive-by” and “selfie” appeal.

Per the city's callout, artists must live within 400 miles of Independence or originally be from the Kansas City metro area, can be an individual or a team, a student or professional, and must have completed a project with a similar budget, scale and scope.

The bridges should be completed next spring, a couple months before the Truman Library reopens late in the summer.

According to MoDOT projections in March – which priced the bridges at about $2.98 million – Independence's cost share for bridge enhancements will be about $350,000. The $50,000 budgeted for the artwork is part of that cost share.