Quad Citians are being warned that time is running out to enter their daily vote to help the Interstate 74 Mississippi River Bridge win a prestigious national People’s Choice Award.
There are less than two weeks before online voting closes at midnight Friday, Oct. 21, to help ensure that the new QC Mississippi River crossing is named tops in the nation in the American Transportation Awards. The public is encouraged to vote daily at Americastransportationawards.org. (The I-74 bridge is listed under its former name, The Memorial Bridge).
On the line, say Illinois and Iowa Departments of Transportation (DOT) leaders, is national prestige and $10,000 in prize money. If the QC bridge wins, the DOTs said they will award the money to the Quad City Engineering & Science Council.
The non-profit has more than 3,000 members and supports local students in studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).The prize money would go to support QCESC’s many student programs such as their annual Battle of the Bridges, where local students showcase their engineering ingenuity with model bridge building activities. QCESC also awards scholarships to top local high school seniors to help them pursue education in the STEM field.
“We take great pride in our mission to make lives better through transportation,” Iowa DOT Director Scott Marler said in a news release. “By awarding the prize to local student programs, we hope to inspire future generations of transportation professionals that continue to transform our communities for the better.”
Earlier this year, the new bridge connecting Bettendorf and Moline’s downtowns was named one of 12 finalists by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. California, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington State earned the highest scores among 80 nominees from 37 states in four regional contests.
Now those 12 projects are vying for the America’s Transportation Award’s Grand Prize and the People’s Choice Award. Both come with a $10,000 cash award for a charity or transportation-related scholarship of the winners’ choosing.
One of the most expensive projects in state history, and led by the Iowa and Illinois DOTs, the I-74 Bridge was recognized as a contest finalist for improving safety and mobility, enhancing quality of life, and positioning the Quad Cities for future economic opportunity.
“The I-74 Mississippi River Bridge has become an icon in the Quad Cities and the Midwest,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “Those who have seen the positive impact it brings to the region would agree that the bridge is absolutely deserving of national recognition. Cast your votes to bring home this prestigious award.”
Moline’s Doug House, who retired as deputy secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation a short time after the Quad Cities celebrated the structure’s opening on Dec. 1, 2021 – told the QCBJ in September that this recognition by national leaders is icing on the cake for all who made it happen.
“The unexpected sweetness is that this iconic signature bridge has been celebrated,” he added. “Being nominated for this national award is a positive reflection on those involved in its unique design, the skilled trades men and women who built it, as well as our region’s special patterns and vision. There is a lot to be proud of here.”
Iowa’s DOT leader agreed. “We are proud of the teamwork between Illinois and Iowa in delivering this project,” Mr. Marler said. “We ask for your support to help bring home this award and show the rest of the country, once again, that our states, industry partners and labor force know how to build world-class infrastructure.”
Opened in late 2021, the bridge has four lanes in each direction, a 14-foot-wide bike and pedestrian path with a scenic overlook, and connections to existing recreational paths in Bettendorf and Moline. The approximately $1 billion project includes twin river bridges, new interchanges, ramps, and local road reconfigurations. For more information on the project, visit www.i74riverbridge.com.
An independent panel of transportation industry experts will select the Grand Prize winner, while the public will decide the People’s Choice Award winner through online voting, which is weighted to each state’s population to allow for greater competition between states with larger and smaller populations.
AASHTO will announce the winners during its annual meeting in Orlando, Florida on Saturday, Oct. 22.