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Heart of America Missouri River Bridge in Kansas City, Missouri

Overview of the Heart of America Bridge

The Heart of America Bridge connects downtown Kansas City Missouri with downtown North Kansas City. The ASB railroad bridge is nearby. The ASB bridge formerly carried four vehicle lanes on its upper level. The Heart of America Bridge was built to replace these lanes and the vehicle lanes were removed from the ASB Bridge once Heart of America was complete.

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The Riverfront Heritage Trail (under construction) will go under the Heart of America Bridge and the ASB Bridge. The trail will approximately follow the path shown by the light colored rocks in the foreground:

Heart of America Bridge Northbound

Northbound the Heart of America Bridge slopes downhill and has wide shoulders. Note the "share the road" sign at the bridge approach. The speed limit is 45 MPH though most traffic moves faster.


Although the bridge has broad shoulders, the shoulders are crossed by numerous broad freeway-style onramps and offramps. The ramp in the middle distance of this photo leads to eastbound I-70:


Again the shoulder is crossed, this time by the onramp from I-70:


A closer view of the same onramp:


A typical cross section of the bridge, away from onramps and offramps (though another onramp is just visible in the middle distance). Note the ASB Bridge on the left:


A closer view of the onramp just visible in the previous photo. Traffic arriving on these onramps is traveling at freeway speeds. The wide shoulder has just disappeared the bicyclist must now cross the rightmost lane to rejoin the (narrower) shoulder on the right:




After crossing the river, the bridge also takes traffic across a large railroad yard on the north side of the river:


This is the north side of the bridge. Note that the shoulder now disappears as the right hand lane is widened to allow for an added 3rd lane and a right-hand turn lane at the traffic light (where cars are stopped at the bottom of the hill in the photo):



This is the intersection at the north side of the bridge, in North Kansas City:


Heart of America Bridge Southbound

The soutbound side of the Heart of America Bridge slopes uphill. It has a narrow shoulder about three feet wide. Crossing the shoulder at regular intervals are drain grates about 4 feet wide.

A few years ago these grates, formerly parallel-bar grates, were replaced with a more bicycle friendly design (the type with square cross-hatching).

However the narrowness of the shoulder (accentuated by the wall on one side and 50-60MPH on the other side) combined with the continuous and relatively steep slope make this shoulder extremely unpleasant for bicycling.

On the occasions (carefully selected to be low-traffic times of day) when I have bicycled across this bridge, I have simply used the right-hand travel lane. I would not feel comfortable or safe riding within the shoulder area.

This is a view of the bridge approach and (across the river) downtown KCMO from North Kansas City:


In the beginning the southbound bridge approach has no shoulder at all:


Now there is a narrow shoulder (approx. 3 feet wide). Note the "share the road" sign:


At this point the bridge is crossing the railroad yards:


The narrow shoulder continues. Note the pedestrian (the dark figure on the other side of the guard rail):


The pedestrian in the previous photo makes this a good place to point out two often-forgotten facts: "Pedestrians and bicyclists need to go to all the places motor vehicles go--and for all the same reasons" and "Transportation planners and engineers . . . have the same level of responsibility to provide for the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians as they do for motorists."

Note the drain grate crossing the shoulder in this photo:


Another drain grate is just visible in the middle distance of this photo:


Now the shoulder narrows as the long approach to an offramp begins:


Here is the offramp:


The shoulder is briefly wider but narrows again as another offramp approaches:



After that offramp is an onramp. All of these on and offramps are interconnecting with the freeway that passes below the bridge:


The bridge ends at an intersection in downtown KCMO:




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