MOLINE, Illinois — When one thinks of ice breakers, visions of Coast Guard cutters busting through Arctic ice floes come to mind.
But earlier this week, observers could see the same phenomenon right here on our stretch of the Mississippi River.
Workers constructing the new I-74 bridge connecting Bettendorf to Moline have braved below-zero temps, frigid water and chunks of ice to keep work going through the winter. Earlier this week, they shared this video on the @I74RiverBridge Twitter feed:
Construction on the massive project, with a price tag topping $1 billion, began in July 2017 and is anticipated to take place over 3 1/2 years. The new bridge will be more than twice as wide as the existing bridge, providing four lanes in each direction.
A multi-use path on the bridge will connect to paths in Bettendorf and Moline. Between Middle Road in Bettendorf and Avenue of the Cities in Moline, I-74 will be expanded to three lanes in each direction with additional lanes at select locations.
Danielle Mulholland, project manager for Iowa DOT, said work has been going on pretty much all winter, other than days with extreme sub-zero weather. This includes pouring concrete into coffer dams on the bottom of the river that will eventually serve as the foundations for the bridge arches. Divers have also been in the water all winter, inspecting work as it goes on.
“It’s pretty amazing, ” Mulholland said, of the winter work being done. “When they put the schedule together, they know it’s Iowa and Illinois and that it’s not going to be sunny and 75 every day, so they build that into the schedule. They just take extra precautions and monitor the weather.”
You can take a live look at bridge construction here, via the I-74 Bridge Project’s webcam.