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A new Interstate 80 Bridge in the Quad Cities will move a step closer to reality Thursday, Oct. 27, when a refined list of project alternatives is discussed during an online public meeting. This is the third project webinar hosted by the Illinois Department of Transportation (DOT) in conjunction with their counterparts at the Iowa Department of Transportation. Anyone wishing to participate in Thursday’s 4-5:30 p.m. meeting can register for free at this link. At the last project meeting in May, panelists provided seven potential routes for a new interstate crossing over the Mississippi River between LeClaire, Iowa, and Port Byron, Illinois. According to the project website, the meeting seeks feedback from participants after a narrowed list of alternative placements for the new bridge is unveiled. The meeting announcement says additional bridge study information also will be provided by the project team. The Illinois DOT project study includes about six miles from the Interstate 88 and I-80 interchange in East Moline, stretching across the river to Iowa and the Southwest 35th Street overpass in Bettendorf to Pleasant Valley Junior High School. The Iowa DOT also is conducting a sister study of the I-80 corridor in the Iowa Quad Cities, from the start of the bridge project stretching west past the Interstate 280 interchange between West Davenport and Walcott. That project calls for updating interchanges and widening I-80 to six lanes -- three in each direction. Built in 1967, the I-80 Bridge continues to face “costly maintenance expenses,” the DOTs jointly claim, after “significant repairs and rehabilitation in recent years.” The roadway design does not meet current standards, either -- and traffic continues to increase on the bridge, according to the project justification. Project materials also say the bridge study is expected to conclude in late 2023 with a project recommendation. Not all of seven alternatives discussed in May would allow for repurposing the existing bridge – as hoped for by proponents of the proposed Bison Bridge project. Also absent from the possibilities presented is pedestrian and bicycle access – which the Bison Bridge includes to link existing riverfront recreation paths on both sides of the river -- and as the now year-old I-74 Bridge allows between Bettendorf and Moline. Rather than demolish the existing span, the Bison Bridge seeks to repurpose the structure into a National Park with separate crossings for wildlife and pedestrian traffic. Among the highlights is the project that seeks to maintain a small herd of Bison on the bridge to help celebrate the riverfront and prairie native to the region. Click on this link to learn more about the Bison Bridge effort. “This is your chance to join our efforts and let the Departments of Transportation know that we want to make this project a reality for the Quad Cities,” Chad Pregracke, founder and president of Living Lands & Waters, and the leader of the Bison Bridge project, said in a released statement. Public comments about the refined list of alternatives – or any other aspect of the project and study - must be received online by Thursday, Nov. 10, to become part of the official meeting record.