Iowa and Illinois Quad Cities residents are invited today to take their first steps on a new Interstate 74 Mississippi River Bridge that was more than three decades in the making.
The event is dubbed by the Illinois and Iowa departments of transportation (DOT) as “We Made It!” Building Together” and is scheduled from 1-4 p.m. It is designed to give Quad Citians a chance to walk on the bridge before it is scheduled to fully open to vehicular traffic later this month.
Quad Cities leaders will gather on the new bridge and will make opening remarks at 1:30 p.m. The rest of the time, visitors will be welcomed to walk across the span that the I-74 Mississippi River Bridge website (www.i74riverbridge.com) describes as “an iconic arch structure welcoming residents, visitors, and new opportunities to the Quad Cities.”
“Handcrafted with the help of Quad Cities trades and businesses, the new structure will be more than twice as wide as the old bridge, providing four lanes in each direction, as well as an exciting new bicycle and pedestrian path,” the website says.
Also just in time of the holiday season, the I-74 Bridge is showing off a color-changing light show. In November, workers tested the lights that feature red, green and blue color-changing LED lights. The City of Bettendorf, in consultation with Moline city officials, will determine how the bridge will be lit throughout the year.
The new bridge being celebrated today will replace the soon-to-be-demolished twin-span green bridges. The old bridge’s westbound span, spanning Illinois to Iowa, was completed and opened in 1935. The eastbound span, from Iowa to Illinois, was completed in 1959 and opened in 1960, according to the Iowa DOT.
By the 1990s, it became clear to Quad Cities leaders such as Gary Vallem, the director of the then Bi-State Metropolitan Planning Commission, that the Quad Cities had outgrown the area’s aging and busiest river crossing. He and other Quad-Cities leaders, including longtime Bettendorf City Administrator Decker Ploehn, launched the decades-long battle for the new bridge that Quad Citians are invited to celebrate today.
For those who attending the bridge festivities, organizers offer these helpful tips:
- Pedestrian entry is available only at the River Drive ramp in Moline.
- Public parking is available at the TaxSlayer Center, 1201 River Drive, Moline.
- There will be limited shuttle service available. MetroLINK will transport walkers from the TaxSlayer to the bridge beginning at 12:30 p.m.
- Dress for the weather. There is a two-block walk from the shuttle drop-off to the bridge ramp and a one-mile round trip walk to and from the bridge.
- The bike and pedestrian path will be closed during the event.
For more information on the bridge celebration, visit www.i74riverbridge.com.