A groundbreaking ceremony marked a major milestone for the massive, highly anticipated I-74 over the Mississippi River project in the Quad Cities. On Monday, June 26, 2017, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner gathered with other local and state officials and key project team members at Leach Park in Bettendorf, Iowa, to mark the occasion. The $1.2 billion project – which has been decades in the making – represents a joint effort between the Iowa and Illinois Departments of Transportation to improve mobility, safety and access through the Quad Cities on Interstate 74.
Originally constructed in 1935, the existing river bridge was designed for a daily capacity of 48,000 vehicles. Today, the structure carries more than 80,000 vehicles a day through the Quad Cities area and is considered structurally obsolete. The need for this project was originally identified in 1996. Roadway realignment and property acquisition tasks began as early as 2013 in anticipation of the project, but this week’s groundbreaking marks the true beginning of the corridor’s construction, including a signature 800-foot basket handle true arch bridge as part of the overall 3,400-foot river crossing, in addition to 24 other structures.
At the groundbreaking, Governor Reynolds told the Quad Cities Times and attendees, “This afternoon, we celebrate a major milestone for Iowans and our neighbors to the east in Illinois. First, this bridge will be the largest contract ever undertaken in the Iowa Department of Transportation. Second, after more than a decade of planning and thousands of interested and passionate citizens, commuters, business owners and decision makers working towards a common vision, this bridge has finally become a reality.”
Benesch has played a significant role in this project since 2009, leading design plans for both the north and central sections of the new corridor, in addition to serving as the Corridor-Wide Coordinator for the project’s seven miles of corridor improvements. The project is expected to create and/or retain more than 1,700 local jobs in the Quad Cities area and, when complete, will feature wider vehicular lanes and a dedicated bike and pedestrian lane over the Mississippi River in order to better bridge the gap between Iowa and Illinois.