One U.S. senator, two Quad-City mayors and a collection of other elected officials drove railroad spikes Tuesday to dedicate a rail spur to the Eastern Iowa Industrial Center.

Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba and Eldridge Mayor Marty O’Boyle praised U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, for getting funding for the $7.1 million project. The mayors pointed out that it will bring jobs to the Quad-Cities when the $9.7 million transload facility is completed in the industrial park, located north of Davenport.

The rail spur will be used for shipping goods and raw materials. It will connect with a Canadian Pacific Railroad line. The transload facility will be completed in 2014.

“We we see here today is the completion of the rail spur — the first phase of a major economic development initiative involving a partnership between the city of Davenport, Scott County, the city of Eldridge and the Greater Davenport Redevelopment Corporation,” Gluba said.

O’Boyle spoke proudly of the cooperation between Davenport and Eldridge on the mutually beneficial project, reading a resolution passed at Monday’s Eldridge City Council meeting supporting annexation of 13 acres for the transload facility.

“We are working in cooperation with our big brother city,” O’Boyle said.

The economic boost the rail spur and transload facility should create are important, said Scott County Board chairman Tom Sunderbruch.

“We welcome every opportunity for economic development and revenue, and this project will bring that,” he said.

Harkin called infrastructure important to private business, metaphorically comparing it to veins and arteries carrying the life blood of commerce. He provided $3 million through earmarks for the project.

“It may seem small to some people, but it is a big deal,” he said of the rail spur. “It is a godsend for developing more business.”

The heat and creosote reminded Harkin of laying rail as a summer job while in college. He swore he would never do it again. Yet, a few years ago as a legislator he was called upon to do it for a photo opportunity and here he was Tuesday, again picking up a maul.

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