Little Blue Parkway
Little Blue Parkway
Little Blue Parkway
2 minute read

To increase the flow of trade and commerce in Independence, Missouri, Little Blue Parkway needed an overhaul. Our firm performed design and construction services for a bridge that would help keep traffic moving.

Independence, Mo., (just east of Kansas City, Mo.) isn’t waiting for growth and development. The 183-year-old city best known as the hometown of former President Harry S. Truman is literally paving the way.


The history of Independence, Mo., is entwined with trails that were the conduit for the nation’s westward expansion. The Santa Fe Trail, an early trade route for exchange of U.S. goods for Mexican gold and silver, began in Independence. Later, Independence wagon wheel manufacturers and other suppliers outfitted pioneers and prospectors in the thousands who set out from Independence on the Oregon and California trails.

Today, a new trail is helping increase the flow of trade and commerce in Independence. Building on its legacy as a crossroads with the help of stimulus dollars and federal highway funds, Independence is realizing its vision of a path for growth — a four-lane parkway that provides faster, safer, cross-town access and links to state and interstate highway systems. The Little Blue Parkway curves through Independence from south to north along the Little Blue River, and will eventually connect with U.S. Highway 40, Interstate 70, Missouri Highway 78 (23rd Street) and U.S. Highway 24.

Burns & McDonnell provided design for seven miles of parkway in phases four through 10 of the 8.5-mile, 10-phase project. Along with new water infrastructure being installed parallel to road construction and enhancements to an existing walk-bike trail system, the Little Blue Parkway is creating ready-to-go conditions for community expansion and economic development of eastern Independence.


Like most linear projects, the Little Blue Parkway presented a series of challenges. Some of the challenges Burns & McDonnell met include fulfilling requirements for Federal Emergency Management Agency-regulated stream crossings, designing a system of wick drainage to facilitate consolidation and settlement for fill in flood-plain areas, delineating and mitigating impacted streams and wetlands and coordinating with utilities during construction.

One notable challenge was met in a way that allowed the parkway project to move forward and improve safety of an existing road while preserving local connectivity.

That particular challenge was an at-grade railroad crossing in the path of the planned parkway. A potential hazard for motorists, the crossing would also disrupt the smooth flow of future parkway traffic, estimated at 50,000 cars per day.


Moving the railway wasn’t an option. Instead, Burns & McDonnell designed a bridge that would take the parkway over it. Raising the alignment high enough to safely clear the railroad and preserve the existing Selsa Road north required installation of mechanically stabilized earth retaining walls. This solution elevated the new roadway surface more than 30 feet above the existing track and Selsa Road at the crossing.

The $19.4 million project was developed to cross over Selsa Road south, which was realigned to preserve the local road network and accessibility to properties and developments. As a result, the train tracks and traffic each have their own space.


In early 2010 , the Little Blue Parkway was fully opened to traffic from 39th Street to R.D. Mize Road in southeast Independence. The newly opened section provides convenient access to a new hospital, Centerpoint Medical Center of Independence. As work continues on the parkway, it’s already making travel faster and safer for drivers traveling the 21st-century trails in Independence.

For more information, contact Kim Curry, 816-822-3477.


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