Remember This?

By Dorri Partain

Kansas City motorists had to keep change handy to cross two bridges that spanned the Missouri River when both the Paseo Bridge and the Broadway Bridge first opened to traffic.

The Paseo Bridge, since replaced by the Christopher S. Bond Bridge, opened as a toll bridge in 1954, followed by the opening of the Broadway Bridge on September 9, 1956. The collected tolls, 10 cents for passenger vehicles, helped offset the cost of bridge construction.

Constructed by the American Bridge Company of New York, N.Y., the final construction cost for the Broadway bridge was $12 million. Designed by Kansas City architects Howard, Needles, Tammen and Bergdorf, the new 2,764-foot span replaced the auto deck of the two-tiered Hannibal Bridge built in 1917, which still carries railroad traffic across the river.

While some toll booths were automated and drivers could place their dime in a collection hopper, others were manned by toll takers that were employees of the City of Kansas City. In instances where the driver needed a receipt for travel expenses, or the toll was more than 10 cents for larger vehicles, they would need to use a lane that had a manned toll booth to obtain a receipt. The receipt was designed so that the toll taker could easily mark the date, toll booth number, and amount for the traveler’s records. The toll booths were removed in 1991.

The Broadway Bridge carries approximately 50,000 vehicles daily along U.S. 169 and provides the best access for the Downtown Wheeler Airport. The bridge was rehabilitated in 1990, and has since been renamed for baseball legend John Jordan “Buck” O’Neil, with the dedication ceremony taking place at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on October 6, 2016, the 10th anniversary of his death.

Crews have begun construction on a new Buck O’ Neill Bridge under the direction of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), which took over maintenance from the City in 1992.

Despite the projected cost of $220 million for construction, the new bridge will not have tolls collected when it opens to traffic in 2024.

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