Illinois-bound I-74 span opens to traffic

Workers remove wood from the underside of the new I-74 bridge, Thursday, December 2, 2021, before the opening. CREDIT JOHN SCHULTZ

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.

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