Schilling, Loebsack join forces to promote I-74 bridge funding

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Area congressmen try to bridge the gap in Interstate 74 funding. They're pushing for Illinois and Iowa to pay up for the new bridge over the Mississippi River.

It will be a way to connect Bettendorf and Moline for the next century. Plans for the new Interstate 74 bridge are in place. But as money-troubled Illinois hesitates to commit funding, it's forcing Iowa to reconsider its contribution.

"We're asking for our fair share to come back to the Quad Cities to give us not only what we need but deserve," said Rep. Bobby Schilling, (R) Illinois.

As Rep. Dave Loebsack, (D) Iowa, briefs the North Scott Rotary Club, each representative is urging their fellow states to follow through. Otherwise, plans for a 2016 construction start could be in jeopardy.

"If the funding in Iowa, for example, is not included in the next five-year plan, it will push back the beginning of construction at least a couple years," said Rep. Loebsack.

Both congressmen hope to build the new bridge with bipartisan support, but it will also take bi-state funding to accomplish that task.

As local, state and federal officials met this week, they urged Iowa, Illinois and the federal government to come up with the money. Delays will increase the $1.2 billion pricetag and cause other problems.

"It's a safety issue," said Rep. Schilling. "It's a commerce issue. Infrastructure isn't Democrat or Republican. It's red, white and blue, and it's going to greatly help our area."

The obsolete and overcrowded I-74 bridge is due for replacement. Officials urge that happens sooner rather than later.

"We've just got to do everything we can to make sure that in Iowa we keep that funding there in the budget," Rep. Loebsack concluded.