Politicians Gather To Celebrate I-74 Bridge Groundbreaking
It's a project more than 17 years in the making. On Monday, a ground-breaking ceremony signaled the next chapter for the new I-74 bridge between Bettendorf and Moline.
With a backdrop of the current bridge, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, Quad Cities mayors and the directors of the Iowa and Illinois Departments of Transportation turned over ceremonial dirt at Leach Park in Bettendorf.
A long time coming.. Ceremonial groundbreaking for the I-74 Bridge. pic.twitter.com/fxSH1dORPA — Lacy Scarmana (@LacyScarmana) June 26, 2017
Mark Lowe, director of the Iowa DOT says with an estimated price tag of $400 million, this is the largest construction project ever in the state.
"When we complete this in 2021, it will be a key part in an even bigger I-74 reconstruction in Iowa and Illinois. It will invest more than $1 billion to deliver a transportation corridor that will meet our needs into the next century," Lowe says.
The project will replace the aging twin bridges and widen the lanes. The new bridge will also include a pedestrian and bike path.
Iowa and Illinois will split the cost of construction. Lowe says the bridge is a physical example of the connection between the states.
"Big things happen on bridges like this every day," he says. "They connect friends and families, they connect markets, they connect economies, states and they even connect our nation."
Illinois governor Bruce Rauner took a break from budget negotiations in Springfield to attend the groundbreaking ceremony.
"This bridge, you know, is a little bit personal. One of the reasons I came up from Springfield — we're in the middle of a big budget battle if some of you don't know that — but I snuck away because this bridge for me is kind of personal," Rauner says.
He says that growing up in northern Illinois, he crossed the I-74 bridge a lot and is relieved the lanes will finally be wider.
He did not mention the budget impasse again during his remarks and declined to answer questions from the press after the ceremony.
The Iowa DOT has agreed to foot the full cost of the bridge until Illinois has a budget.
However, the future of other construction projects in Illinois are at stake. State Transportation Secretary Randall Blankenhorn says if there's not a deal in place by Friday, 900 projects will have to shut down.
Construction of the I-74 bridge is expected to begin later this month.