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Report: New bridge needed for Sylvan Island

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An engineering report recommends building a brand new bridge onto Moline's Sylvan Island, saying the current bridge is unsafe for public use.

In April, city officials closed the bridge due to structural concerns. Since then, the island and its nationally-ranked mountain bike trails have only been accessible by boat.

Thursday, Moline Parks Director Laura Duran presented the engineering report to the Park Board. The report estimates a new bridge will cost $1.2 million, while repairing the existing bridge will cost close to $1.8 million. Engineers recommend building a new pedestrian bridge, which would be 12 feet wide and able to support 15 tons, or enough to allow an ambulance across in case of emergency.

Some Park Board members said they'd also like to hear options for preserving the 112-year-old bridge.

"They received the report for the first time today. They'd like some time to read it and digest that information, and they'll come together for another meeting," said Duran.

Members of local outdoor groups said their priority is getting back on the island again soon.

"We've put a lot of money and time into it. We have hundreds of volunteer hours every year that go into maintaining the trails, everything from mowing the lawns to clipping branches back and making sure that trails don't erode," said Harris Elias from Friends of Off Road Cycling.

River Action's annual adventure triathlon, "Taming of the Slough," has already been moved to the Campbell's Island Slough this year due to the Sylvan Island closure. Thursday, racers participated in a first "tune-up" for the race, gathering in East Moline's Empire Park.

"I wish the city of Moline would have gotten the bridge fixed early so that we could have the race in the same old place, but it's always new to go somewhere else, so it'll be interesting," said participant Joel Anderson.

The Park Board plans to meet again in the coming weeks, and it will then make a recommendation to the City Council.