KANSAS CITY, MO.—It's just two days and counting until opening day for the Kansas City Royals, and it's been a busy off-season as construction crews managed to build a new bridge and exit ramps into the Truman Sports Complex in just 75 days during the dead of winter and just in time for the first pitch.
Officials with the Clarkson Construction Company say that the new George Brett Bridge and four exit ramps was as challenging a project as they have ever handled. The exit off of I-70 at Blue Ridge Cutoff had been closed since the end of the Chiefs season as crews worked frantically to build a new bridge, and with all the snow and cold, it has not been easy.
"Number one, damages were very serious. MODOT and the Royals wanted it to be very serious for any contractor to put in the time and effort and whatever days they could," said Robert Fry of Clarkson Construction. "A very guessing game from the contractor's stand point based on what weather has been and history. we had a tough winter and we put in the effort and time. We're getting right down to the last day."
Although the new bridge and ramps will be open for baseball fans, the Royals are urging fans to leave early for Thursday's 3 p.m. game against the Angels, and to take an alternate route if possible.
But even if construction delays don't scare off fans, a chance of story weather might.
"All of our forecasts have shown that it's either going to be cloudy a little bit milder in the afternoon," said Royals vice-president Toby Cook. "If we do get a passing shower it's not going to affect the game. The game will go on, don't let the dreariness of the morning affect you from coming out."
The massive I-70 expansion project near the Sports Complex, which is being paid for by federal stimulus dollars, will continue throughout the year, with officials hoping to have it completed by the end of November. During the baseball season, Matt Killion, an engineer with MODOT, says fans from the north may be inconvenienced when the state shuts down the ramp from southbound I-435 onto eastbound I-70.
"We'll have some daily lane closures on I-70 and on I-435 as we continue the project, but as far as a permanent closure there won't be anything in place," said Killion.