Calling it “one of the worst bridges I have ever seen,” the U.S. Secretary of Transportation stopped in the Quad Cities to see the I-74 Bridge.
On Thursday, April 24th, 2014, Secretary Anthony Foxx met Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois) and Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) at Leach Park in Bettendorf to see the “functionally obsolete” bridge for himself.
“[We] primarily talked about the structural integrity of the bridge and looked at the crumbling concrete and the expose rebars,” Rep. Loebsack said. “This is clearly something that is really significant. It’s really not in the long term cost-effective to continue to make the kinds of repairs that have to be made. It really does have to be replaced.”
After the meeting at Leach Park, Secretary Foxx rode over the I-74 Bridge for a meeting in downtown, Moline.
“If you go a couple inches too far to the right or left, you’re going to have some problems,” he told a chuckling crowd.
“What I observed was the lack of a shoulder,” he added to News 8 after the meeting. “It’s very narrow on that bridge and I can understand why this community wants to come together to see that bridge get expanded and to ensure that not only the growth that’s already here, but the growth that’s coming in the future is accommodated by a new bridge in a new capacity.”
However, the remaining money needed for the I-74 Bridge will take a lot of work in Washington. Secretary Foxx says the Highway Trust Fund is nearly empty and Congress needs to come to a long-term solution.
“The country has a to-do list of projects that need to happen around this country that communities absolutely need to compete for the 21st century economy and I believe we’re at an inflection point and that circumstances are going to require a longer term solution,” says Foxx.
Foxx and his team are putting forward a four-year plan with billions of dollars for projects like the I-74 Bridge. Both Rep. Bustos and Rep. Loebsack say they’re hopeful it will pass.
“Up to this point, there hasn’t been a coming together on part of the administration and members of Congress to any great extent,” says Rep. Loebsack. “That’s why we had an extension of just two years for the last highway bill and I think there’s a greater recognition now of what’s going to happen if that trust fund dries up by the end of September.”
“There’s a great recognition at the state level about what that’s going to mean for the resources that would be required at the state level to do the kinds of things we need to do so I think there’s been a shift in terms of sort of public awareness as well as awareness on the part of the decision makers as to what has to happen.”
“This all gets down to investing in on our future,” says Rep. Bustos. “We’ve got to come together and we have to invest and that is how we’re going to make improvements like the I-74 Bridge, in education, in our children, all of that. We have to invest in what’s important.”
Congress will be discussing the Highway Trust Fund in the coming months. Meanwhile, all the prep work going on on both sides of river will continue. For a breakdown of the I-74 Bridge Project, click here.