Update: Interstate 74 bridge still on target for big bang this Sunday

Interstate 74 Bridge demolition
Traffic will be detoured here when the old Interstate 74 Bridge is demolished. CREDIT IOWA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

As of Friday, plans appeared to be remain on target — weather permitting, of course — for the Father’s Day detonation of a pair of towers and cables on the old Interstate 74 Bridge.

Demolition contractor Helm Group are expected to begin – as early as 7 a.m. Sunday, June 18 – to use controlled explosives to remove suspension cables and towers on the eastbound span of the old green bridge still stretching across the Mississippi River between Bettendorf and Moline, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) says. 

The use of explosives will require the temporary closure of the new twin-span Interstate 74 Bridge to vehicles and pedestrians. The river also will be temporarily closed to commercial traffic and pleasure boaters, Iowa DOT said.

A number of areas will be restricted during the planned June 18 demolition of parts of the old Interstate 74 bridge. CREDIT IOWA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

“Safety is our utmost priority during the demolition process. We ask the public, including boaters, to be cautious and avoid the restricted area during this critical operation,” Chris  Snyder, project manager for Helm Group, said in the Iowa DOT news release. “By respecting the safety measures in place, we can ensure the wellbeing of everyone involved and complete the process quickly and efficiently. We appreciate the understanding and support of the community.” 

To ensure public safety during the demolition the crew’s operation, areas will be temporarily closed. The main navigation channel in the river will be closed for up to 24 hours, beginning at 6 a.m. on June 18.  Areas outside the main navigation channel will be closed for up to 72 hours. Local law enforcement will be on site monitoring the river during the demolition process, the news release said.

The entire new I-74 bridge will be closed to traffic for about an hour on Sunday morning, with a posted detour in place. Through-traffic will be routed to Interstates 80 and 280.

Local traffic will be directed to use the Centennial Bridge in Davenport to cross the river, and then routed to either downtown Bettendorf to get to westbound I-74 or downtown Moline to get to eastbound I-74. The bike and pedestrian path on the new bridge will be closed for about 24 hours beginning the night of June 17, and will be closely monitored by local law enforcement.

Parts of the riverfront path also will be closed in Bettendorf.

Residents and visitors in the area are advised to view the Restricted Area Map here. Access to those areas, including Leach Park in Bettendorf, will be strictly prohibited. Sections of the riverfront path in Bettendorf will be closed, Iowa DOT said. Access to the businesses on State Street and the Isle Casino Hotel Bettendorf will remain open. Additionally, the parking lot adjacent to the new bridge in Bettendorf will be closed to the public. 

The public also is encouraged to view the demolition online and can witness it by accessing the project webcams here

As the list of closures suggests, multi-state, federal and local agencies and stakeholders are involved in the demolition planning. Among them are the Coast Guard, Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency, local and federal highway officials, the railroads, and the cities of Bettendorf and Moline.

Even the Federal Aviation Administration will be impacted since the bridge is in an approach corridor for one of the Quad Cities International Airport’s runways.

Recently, in a presentation to the Rock Island Rotary club, Mr. Snyder shared what viewers can expect during the explosion.

For example, on demolition day, he said, there will be several detonations, starting with setting off a few blasting caps underwater to scare away the fish, Mr. Snyder said. That will be followed by a series of detonations that will bring down the targeted cables and towers. 

To viewers, it will sound like “one big explosion,” he said. “There is a time sequence, but it’s pretty quick. You might catch it with your eye but it will seem like one blast.”

Who gets to do the honors? A licensed blaster subcontracted by Helm Group sets and detonates the charges. 

In addition to the June 18 eastbound span demolition, the use of explosives for the westbound bridge cables and towers is anticipated in late summer.

For updates on the current demolition project, visit www.I74RiverBridge.com.

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