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The bridge that almost wasn’t

Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021

* 2011

U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, said Monday that Illinois is “reprogramming” money that could possibly be used to fund construction of the I-74 bridge over the Mississippi River.

Rep. Schilling, U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Mount Vernon, state Sen. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, and state Rep. Rich Morthland, R-Cordova, appeared at a joint news conference to urge the Illinois Department of Transportation to fund the project.

“Give us our money,” Rep. Schilling said.

That’s back when LaHood was concerned about transportation needs.

* 2012

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has instructed the state Department of Transportation to devote $72 million to the Interstate-74 bridge, a surprising development given the agency had only a small amount of funding for the project in the six-year plan it announced last week.

It’s not clear whether the new financial commitment will convince the state of Iowa to maintain construction funding in the state’s long-range transportation plan, which the Iowa DOT’s staff recommended earlier this week be moved out of the plan.

* 2013

It won’t be voted on for another couple of months, but Iowa’s long-range transportation plan is expected to include construction money for the Interstate-74 bridge, restoring funding that was removed last year in the midst of doubts over the project. […]

That’s a big change from last year at this time, when Illinois was balking at devoting funding for construction of a new span, a development that prompted Iowa to remove the money it had programmed for construction.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, after pressure from local officials, reversed the state’s course and ordered that last year’s plan include $72 million for the construction.

Illinois upped the ante last week, when the governor unveiled a six-year plan that included $175 million through 2019 for I-74.

* 2014

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn unveiled his six-year, $8.6 billion infrastructure plan to improve roads and bridges throughout the state on Wednesday. […]

This includes building a $308.6 million new I-74/US 6 bridge crossing the Mississippi River in Moline.

* 2015

The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce is heading to Washington D.C. on Thursday, April 30, 2015 to lobby for more funding for economic development projects in the area.

One of those projects is the I-74 Bridge. In February, Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce CEO Tara Barney said the area still needs $400 million more in Illinois, Iowa, and federal funding for the project. Thursday, City of Moline Planning and Development Director Ray Forsythe said, the Illinois Department of Transportation is still buying up properties where the bridge and interstate will go in Moline. Barney also said Illinois’ fiscal problems will not affect construction of the bridge.

* 2016

The Interstate 74 bridge and John Deere Road projects look likely to be the latest local casualties of the Illinois budget impasse.

Both projects are among many in the state expected to grind to a halt July 1 unless state lawmakers agree on a new budget.

Moline Mayor Scott Raes said he received assurances in May from Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Randall Blankenhorn that work on the Illinois side of I-74 bridge and John Deere Road would continue this summer.

“So I was a little surprised to see the notice of the shutdown,” the mayor said.

* 2017

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds were in the Quad Cities Monday to celebrate the groundbreaking of the I-74 bridge.

The new bridge is the biggest traffic need in the Quad City area.

It’s expected to take the next three years to build which will be four lanes going in both directions, but Governor Rauner took some heat for making the trip while Illinois struggles without a budget.

“He needs to know that there are people everywhere who are going to resist and who are upset about the budget,” Collin West said. “Currently I live in East Moline and right now the East Moline school district is owed millions of dollars and there’s a chance that they won’t even open for the fall,” West said. “That all goes back to the budget and right now he’s down here in Iowa for a photo op and he’s not passing a budget,” said West.

* 2018

I-74 Mississippi River Bridge, Bettendorf/Davenport, Iowa, and Moline, Ill.: This $1.2 billion project has now begun, and the project timeline looks to make major progress before the weather turns icy at year’s end. Within the river, all 279 drilled shafts will be completed and the westbound bridge piers and roadway will take shape. In Bettendorf, steel will be set across the piers, forming the WB roadway and exit ramp. Fourteenth Street, along with the existing ramp to WB I-74, will be reconstructed and thus reduced to one lane through summer’s end.

* 2020

Current and former workers on the new Interstate 74 bridge say the primary contractor intentionally kept bridge construction off schedule over the summer in a clash with the [Iowa state government] over funding.

As of Thursday, the Iowa DOT was acknowledging for the first time that construction is likely to lag about a year behind schedule. The westbound (Iowa-bound) span was to be finished this season. Bad weather and other delays pushed the schedule to the middle of next year. But that target may be missed too. […]

While Lunda has maintained the design for the bridge is “not constructible,” the project manager for the Iowa DOT said the state disagrees.

* September

All of the steel beams for the new bike and pedestrian path are installed, connecting both sides of the river. A scenic overlook with a glass floor will provide an amazing view of the sunset as well as the boats and barges traveling under the bridge. Lighting crews are also finishing installing the colorful new LED lights that will ensure you see the beautiful new arches for miles.


* Today…

Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Transportation today joined with the Federal Highway Administration, community leaders and residents of the Quad Cities to celebrate the upcoming completion of the new Interstate 74 Mississippi River Bridge, one of the biggest projects in state history and a transformational investment in infrastructure for the region. The new bridge is the latest project delivered under Gov. Pritzker to improve safety and mobility, enhance quality of life, and position an important region of the state for economic opportunity for future generations.

“The I-74 Mississippi River Bridge has long been a critical east-west link in the nation’s transportation network. Alongside our Iowan and federal partners, we’re taking a critical piece of infrastructure that has been mainly untouched since 1960 and turning it into the centerpiece residents deserve,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This is one of the largest projects in state history – and proof that Illinois is laying the foundation for safer and shorter commutes, while creating and sustaining hundreds of thousands of jobs across the state. It’s a win for the businesses and people of Illinois, a win for the businesses and people of Iowa, and a win for the entire Midwest.”

After more than four years of construction, the I-74 Mississippi River Bridge is anticipated to open to traffic in early December, delivering four lanes in each direction and providing improved safety for all travelers. The bridge includes a 14-foot-wide bike and pedestrian path, with a scenic overlook and connections to existing paths in Bettendorf and Moline.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - here we go - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 12:21 pm:

    Quad Cities bridge is about 25 years in the making, and long overdue and great for the regional economy for sure. Good example of two states cooperating. Hmmm, do you think Congress could ever do this? Good job to Governor Pritzker for putting the final pressure on this to get it done.

  2. - City Zen - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 12:32 pm:

    ==anticipated to open to traffic in early December==

    According to Google Maps, half the bridge is already open.

    I assume 4 lanes will make it easier to bypass the area altogether? Too bad The Stevenson didn’t get 4 lanes.

  3. - Almost the Weekend - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 12:58 pm:

    City Zen,

    Another perfect example of you having absolutely no knowledge of the state outside of you listening to the Chicago Police scanners at night.

    John Deere is headquartered in Moline and has several union plants on both sides of the river. Also two four year colleges in Rock Island and Davenport.
    This bridge just isn’t for cars to pass through this will help with the local economy.

    Please stop posting ignorant stuff on here it gets old. And go back to reading Twitter replies in your right wing bubble.

  4. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 1:00 pm:

    So…Illinois is better than Iowa is what I gather from all of this. We may not be called bridge builders or the bridge builder state, but we built a nice one.

  5. - Cool Papa Bell - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 1:04 pm:

    The old bridge was a pretty one and had its historic side. But I’m glad I won’t be driving over it anymore. It was also miserable to get on and off of.

    A side note - nothing was as bad as the bridge over the Mississippi to Louisiana, MO. So glad when the new bridge on 54 was done.

  6. - Ares - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 1:10 pm:

    Every project gets done, perhaps not for the cost or time originally expected, but they do get done. Nobody will (hopefully) quibble in a decade or two. Millennium Park had its share of overruns and disputes, but nobody today would dare say it should have never been built. The same will happen for I-74.

  7. - olddog - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 1:12 pm:

    === According to Google Maps, half the bridge is already open.

    I assume 4 lanes will make it easier to bypass the area altogether? ===

    Um, better take another look at the map. The I-74 bridge links the downtown business districts of Moline and Bettendorf, Iowa.

  8. - From DaZoo - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 1:20 pm:

    @Rich - I liked your back to back snippets with the 2015 one ending with Illinois fiscal issues not impacting construction followed by 2016 snippet saying construction will be halted with budget impasse.

    @here we go - Construction activities started around 2012 with ground breaking specifically for the new bridge starting in 2016/2017. All of this prior to Gov. Pritzker. JB’s staff may have been involved when a labor issue popped up in the later stages.

    To the post: It definitely has taken a great deal of time and effort to get to the construction finish line. The bigger the project, the more effort (and drama) is included. Congrats to all involved in moving this forward.

  9. - WLDS News - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 2:11 pm:

    I would love for someone to come help me do a deep dive into the funding and SNAFUs with the Corridor 67 project on the west central side of the state. The highway was supposed to connect the Quad Cities to St. Louis in virtually a straight shot. The project was started back when I was 3 - I’m now 38. Still only partially completed.

    According to IDOT’s project forecast, the project will be completed over the next decade…sometime. Currently, a portion of it is causing a ton of crashes just south of Jerseyville, and they are re-starting construction up and around the Beardstown area once again.

    Let’s hope these infrastructure monies last to see it through. It was also a promised economic boon to the small communities along the corridor.

  10. - Morningstar - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 3:31 pm:

    WLDS News - give Greg Baise a call. He would have interesting insight on the roads in Forgottonia.

  11. - LkBrightSideofLlife - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 3:36 pm:

    Cool. Now I can get to Iowa faster than the other 2 Interstate bridges next to them!

  12. - Say What? - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 3:51 pm:

    Actually, Iowa built this bridge and Illinois provided funding. Illinois did build their approaches to the bridge thou.

  13. - watchdog - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 3:54 pm:

    Whatever happeneed to the old bridge? Environmentalists were fighting to preserve it as a bike and pedestrian way, and to plant vegetation on it. Sounded like a great idea!

  14. - DuPage - Wednesday, Dec 1, 21 @ 5:15 pm:

    This looks like an updated vidio.

  15. - Occasionally Moderated - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 7:01 am:

    The new I-74 bridge really will change the face of the Quad Cities in the next 5-10 years.

    This connects the strongest retail areas of both sides of the river. The old bridge was two narrow lanes with no shoulders. People didn’t like to drive across it. Winter weather or a crash could snarl traffic on the old bridge for hours. Difficulty getting emergency crews and tow trucks on and off this bridge added to the problem.

    The new bridge is four lanes and if there is a traffic problem it will be able to be fixed quickly.

    The Illinois side is going to have to figure out what the effects will be. The John Deere Road corridor is where big box retail was on the Illinois side. John Deere Road was just redone but it was poorly planned and is frankly hard to navigate. I swear, it’s impossible to hit a green light there and it’s a “how do I get there” type set up. The Iowa side has “the 53rd Street corridor” loaded with retail including Sam’s, Costco, Bestbuy and even a Portillo’s. The price of gas today at Sam’s and Costco is $2.79 in Davenport. The 53rd street corridor has been well planned and it seems like you can breeze to whatever retail store you want and hop on I-74 and get back to Illinois on either this new bridge or the I-80 bridge.

    I’m not predicting doom and gloom for the Illinois side. I will say that Iowa outplanned us and took advantage of the benefits of being a border region with lower sales and fuel tax.

  16. - Cool Papa Bell - Thursday, Dec 2, 21 @ 10:15 am:

    The new John Deere Parkway is a mess. Hard to believe that is what they came up with for a total rebuild.

    If something ever takes foot at South Park Mall that will be boom. It is a good thing that the Illinois side has the airport.

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