New I-74 Bridge will be a reality sooner than expected

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Dozens of drivers got their first look at plans for the new I-74 Bridge at a public meeting Wednesday night hosted by the Illinois and Iowa Departments of Transportation.

The next work on the Interstate 74 corridor project is scheduled to begin in August of 2014, when crews reconstruct River Drive in Moline in preparation for the new bridge ramps. From September to December, construction work will close River Drive between 19th Street and 23rd Street. The I-74 River Drive exit and entrance ramps in Moline will also be closed during that time.

The next step will be realigning State and Grant Streets in Bettendorf -- work that will mainly take place in 2015.

Work on the Mississippi River span, or actual bridge itself, it set to begin in 2017. That work, originally scheduled to take five years to complete, will now take only three-and-a-half years.

"It will have some traffic impacts, but it's going to lessen the amount of time that traffic is impacted, so it's significant. It's going to reduce costs, and it's going to let us get a good product out there quicker," said Becky Marruffo, a project engineer with the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The shorter timeline is expected to save roughly $76 million. The total cost of the project is now estimated to reach $1.4 billion.

Despite the expected traffic hassles, drivers said they were excited about the plans.

"I've been looking forward to this. We've needed it for an awful long time, awful long time," said East Moline resident Norman Farral. "It'll be a lot safer, and it will be a lot easier to cross the river with the new lanes and everything."

A second public meeting will be held on Thursday, April 24, 2014, at the Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf. Community members are invited to stop by anytime between 4 and 7 p.m. to view the plans and ask questions about the project.

Beginning Thursday, the latest plans can also be viewed online at this link.