FRIDAY, JANUARY 22, 2021
Jackson County’s Rock Island Trail took a major step toward completion with the setting of the Wildwood Bridge Wednesday morning.
It took two cranes and a talented crew to move the 200-foot, 140,000-pound span into place completing the 300-foot-long bridge. A 100-foot span was previously put into place December 22, 2020.
The Wildwood Bridge is the longest bridge on the Rock Island Trail making it the longest trail bridge in Jackson County. The bridge connects wooded areas and neighborhoods along the trail to the downtown Raytown area.
According to Rock Island Project Manager Matt Davis, this is the final new bridge on the Rock Island Trail and one of the more challenging components of the project.
“Setting this bridge indicates that we are nearing completion of the project and represents a major milestone. It is important to note that the bridge is not yet complete. Concrete decking still needs to be poured. Residents should not attempt to access or cross the bridge at this time,” he said.
The bridge has two spans with a pier in the center. The pier sits in 5’ of limestone, 22’ below ground level. The structure is made of weathering steel, which weathers to cover itself with a protective rust colored patina. When complete it will have concrete decking. All the prefabricated trail bridges on the trail project are 12 feet wide and have a load criterion to accommodate 20,000 pounds, allowing them to carry emergency vehicles when necessary.
“Installation of this major trail bridge is very exciting and indicative of the incredible progress we have made over the past five years,” Davis said. “Getting to this point has made me even more excited for the public to see and enjoy this awesome trail.”
He said, as far as major pieces to be built for this phase of the trail, there are two small walls remaining in the project. Other remaining tasks are constructing trail, trailheads, signage, crossing treatments (button operated flashing beacons at roadway crossings), access control and seeding among other “minor” tasks.
The first phase of the Rock Island Trail was completed in June 2019 and included 6.5 miles of trail between Jefferson Street in Lee’s Summit to Brickyard Road in Kansas City. The historic Vale Tunnel, a 453 former railroad tunnel, is a key feature of this first segment of trail. This section can be accessed from two Trailheads, one at 98th Street and Bannister Road, and the another at Hartman Park in Lee’s Summit.
The second phase of the Rock Island Trail, now under construction, will connect from Brickyard Road to the Truman Sports Complex.
“We hope to open the project in April, but weather will play a role as many of the remaining tasks are weather permitting,” Davis said.
“This feature is among the many reasons the trail will continue to be one of the most popular in Jackson County,” said Jackson County Parks + Rec Director Michele Newman. “Jackson County Parks + Rec is so thrilled to be bringing this very important project to our community.”
A third phase to the trail will be 1.5 miles long on the south end of the existing trail and is projected to begin in late 2021 or early 2022.
The Rock Island Trail is a part of the Rock Island Corridor Project, a collaborative effort between Jackson County and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. Jackson County has taken the lead on the development and management of the trail, while the KCATA is focused on planning for future transit and economic development opportunities along the 17.7-mile corridor.