21 years in the making, crews finally break ground on I-74 Bridge project

BETTENDORF - After decades in the making a vision is finally becoming a reality.

On Monday, crews held a ground-breaking ceremony to celebrate the long awaited I-74 Bridge project. Among the crowd was Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.

Watch: I-74 Bridge groundbreaking ceremony

The I-74 bridge has connected Iowa and Illinois since 1935.

However, it has outlived its usefulness.

"Its existing structure can no longer handle our travel needs of today. Our growing and vibrant communities that span the Quad Cities areas have elevated the need for the new bridge," said Governor Reynolds.

21 years ago, the plan started to build a new bridge to replace the old one.

"The Iowa side has gone through five department directors and four chief engineers and so it`s very, very true today`s celebration is a culmination of more than 17 years of work," said Mark Lowe, Director of the Iowa Department of Transportation.

It's the biggest construction project in Iowa's history. With the price tag of $400 million.

"It will invest more than $1 billion dollars to deliver a transportation corridor that will meet our needs," said Lowe.

Governor Rauner took a break from Springfield to attend the celebration, "We`re in the middle of big budget battle if some of you don`t know that, but I snuck away, because this bridge for me is kind of personal."

The Illinois Department of Transportation says funding is secure, even with a budget impasse in Springfield. Most of the money for the project is from federal money.

"The plan is to be able to get started on work here," said John Wegmeyer, an engineer at IDOT.

By 2021, a new bridge will be over the mighty Mississippi that be around for the next century.

Work will begin this summer on Middle Road in Bettendorf and Avenue of the Cities in Moline.

IDOT says drivers won't feel an impact until 2019.