The 42nd Street culvert in Independence, closed since Jan. 30 due to structural deficiencies, has become a construction site, and city officials still plan to have the road between Noland and Phelps road completely open by the end of the year.

City Manager Zach Walker said it's possible the road above it could reopen before the final touches on the entire culvert structure are complete.

“It would be work that drivers wouldn't even notice,” he said.

The contract for a little more than $367,000 is with Blue Nile Contractors, the lowest of six bidders. An engineer's estimate prior to bids was $336,600, and the city budgeted $400,000 in the 2019-20 fiscal year for the project. Storm water sales tax revenues will cover the cost.

The city was able to handle most of the design work with in-house engineers, reducing some overall costs.

The culvert over Adair Creek is about 500 feet east of Hocker Road, and through traffic on 42nd between Noland and Phelps has been closed since a structural report showed the culvert had failed enough that it couldn't be guaranteed to safely support traffic.

The corrugated metal pipe culvert had been routinely inspected last November, and that finding generated enough concern for a follow-up inspection that led to closure. The culvert might have been replaced in the near future, city officials said in January, but the structural issue moved that project to the top of the list as an emergency.

That closure came just a couple months after the Missouri Department of Transportation finished three new bridges over Interstate 70, including one for Phelps Road. However, while that construction took just several months, all the planning and bids had been done in the year before closing the bridges. The culvert at 42nd Street allowed no such timetable, forcing officials to start from scratch after closing it.

The new box culvert will be 85 feet long and double reinforced, according to city documents, and will be designed to improve drainage in the immediate area.