I-74 bridge workers take advantage of nice weather to catch up on “critical construction”

BETTENDORF, Iowa - At the start of the summer in 2018, construction crews were ahead of schedule and working to open the westbound lanes of the new I-74 River bridge between Illinois and Iowa by the end of 2019.

However, leaders admit that a freezing winter and a spring full of historic flooding knocked plans off course and caused delays.

"Definitely weather is a challenge and Mother nature`s not been kind over the past 6 months or so," said I-74 Project Manager Danielle Alvarez who works for the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Crews took advantage of the sunny, dry weather during the week of July 29.

On August 2, crews were working to install a stay system in the middle of the river.

"All we can ask for is a nice sunny, summer day to help us keep working out there," said Alvarez.

A stay system is like a pulley-system. Thick wires connect to temporary structures. The wire can help crews align the arches that are being erected both vertically and laterally, according to project leaders.

It's a challenging process. One that Alvarez calls critical.

"We need to make sure that we are making all the right decisions, taking a little bit of extra time to do that to make sure that we are able to steer the arch, get the thing put together as efficiently as possible," said Alvarez.

Through the delays, Alvarez says progress is still being made.

"We have taken some hits from the weather, we are in a critical stage of construction progress right now with setting up the stay system which will help us align the arch as we erect it,"

By the end of August, the goal would be to have the stay systems installed on both sides of the river. Once those systems are installed, crews can continue to construct the arches.

As the arches come together, many other pieces will fall into place as well, Alvarez tells News 8.

Project leaders say they expected Westbound traffic from Illinois into Iowa to be driving across the new I-74 River Bridge in the first half of the year 2020.

Want to watch the progress? Click here.

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