Just a day and a half after Quad-Citians took their first steps on the new Interstate 74 bridge, motorists are now driving on the Illinois-bound lane.
The final span of the new $1 billion, twin-span bridge opened to traffic just after 9 p.m. Thursday evening. The old I-74 bridge will be permanently closed to traffic because the eastbound green bridge no longer will be needed.
The opening of the new I-74 span was first hinted at in a tweet Thursday from the I-74 Bridge Twitter account. Illinois and Iowa departments of transportation reported that the newest span would open this week along with all the new bridge ramps, including the on-ramp at Grant Street and U.S. Highway 67 in Bettendorf, and the off-ramp to River Drive in Moline.
The timing for Thursday night’s traffic switch was dependent on how soon the contractor could coordinate the opening and closing, George Ryan, I-74 corridor manager said just a day after the Quad Cities hosted a nearly 12-hour bridge celebration.
“It was a great day,” he said of the festivities that drew federal, state and local officials; federal and state highway officials; private-sector and business leaders; elected officials and city and county staff; contractors; and tradesmen and women who built the bridge. Thousands of Quad-Citians also joined a party that began with a welcome breakfast followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony atop the bridge. The day ended with a fireworks display launched above the colorfully-lit new structure.