Crews from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Wednesday morning cleaned out a mountain of trash under the I-435/US 24 overpass left by people who had been sheltering under the bridge.
Wednesday morning’s action was prompted by three recent fires under the bridge, one of which caused significant damage to the Northbound span of the Interstate. According to MoDOT Engineer Jimmy Shannon, damage to the bridge is significant enough that repair to the superstructure will cause the closure of the northbound lanes to allow for proper repair.
“We don’t normally see fire that hot under here,” Shannon said. “There was definitely an accelerant involved.”
Shannon also noted that the bridge’s nine-girder superstructure actually helped contain the blazes. Had the birdies been farther apart, damage could have closed the northbound lanes completely.
Repair will run between $100,000 and $200,000. Shannon indicated that MoDOT was exploring a proprietary fencing to be installed under the bridge to deter the vandalism or occupation of the space under the bridge.
This week’s clean up involved over 15 people, five MoDOT dump trucks, a skid steer and a wash-down crew that will follow up later this week. Shannon estimated this clean up alone would run taxpayers close to $20,000.
According to Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) East Patrol Community Interaction Officer (CIO) Pat Byrd, all of the people present had been offered resources and services on an almost weekly basis for at least three weeks leading up to this week’s clean up effort. All offers however were refused, however. Everyone living under the bridge had relocated by the time crews arrived Wednesday. Two people residing in a tent in a grassy area west of the Interstate were displaced.