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Pier test

About a dozen people gathered near the Interstate 74 bridge in Bettendorf to witness construction workers pour 136,000 pounds of concrete into a “mock pier,” built for the purpose of testing the procedures and materials to be used for the real piers on the $1.2 billion I-74 bridge project. The pier built for the Sept. 1 test will be short lived. After the tests are completed, officials say, they’re going to tear it down.

Kevin E. Schmidt, QUAD-CITY TIMES

 Tests on a mock pier in downtown Bettendorf for the new Interstate 74 bridge all have come out positive, officials say, paving the way for crews to move forward.

"At this point, we’re pretty confident what they did does work," Danielle Mulholland, project engineer for the project, said Monday.

The tests were conducted about 10 days ago on a mock pier just upriver from the existing span. Officials say the unusual step of building the mock pier, then testing it, was necessitated by the unusual Y-shape structure chosen for the project.

Mulholland said standard tests to measure such things as strength and air content were conducted, as well as measurements on how well the concrete adhered to the reinforced steel bars. The latter test, conducted specifically for this type of pier, was conducted by taking a core sample about 6 inches in diameter from the mock pier on Monday, Mulholland said.

Ultimately, 15 sets of piers will be built in downtown Bettendorf for the part of the bridge that extends from the water's edge over the city's downtown. Another 15 sets of piers will be built in the river, while 10 sets will be constructed from the river's edge in Moline to 7th Avenue. Construction on the $1.2 billion project, which began this summer, is expected to take 3½ years to complete.