More than 100 concerned residents peppered state and local officials Monday for information about the new Interstate 74 Bridge.

Moline Mayor Stephanie Acri hosted the event, part of a series of casual meetings to share ideas and air concerns about the city.

Experts on site included Ryan Hippen, construction field engineer for the Illinois Department of Transportation, and Danielle Mulholland, I-74 project engineer with the Iowa Department of Transportation.

"I don't get tired of talking about this improvement," Hippen said. 

The basket handle true arch twin bridge is to cost an estimated $1.2 billion, and open late in 2020 after 3½ years of construction.

According to Hippen, it will have a much higher capacity for traffic and mobility, and will be much safer.

Much interest was expressed in an extra 14-foot wide lane, which is designed for bicyclists and walkers. "Anything that does not have a motor," Mulholland said.

At the mid-point of the bridge, the lane will have a glass bottom, to look at the Mississippi River below. This is a unique part of the bridge design, Hippen said. The recreational lane is on the west, or down-river side of the bridge.

The project is on schedule, and the schedule is "very aggressive," Hippen said. Traffic delays will be the worst in 2019 when Iowa-bound, or west lanes are closed for a prolonged amount of time. The lane closures allow the project to be built faster, Hippen said.

At the height of the delays, local traffic will be diverted to Kimberly Road in Davenport to access the lanes back into Illinois. Other travelers will be detoured to both Interstate 280 and Interstate 80 bridges.

Officials did not know what the speed limits will be on the new bridge, but a consultant, George Ryan, estimated it to be between 60-75 miles per hour.

Both the Iowa and Illinois departments of transportation are responsible for the bridge, and both departments will provide maintenance. "That's been the process in the past, and that will continue," Mulholland said.

Several questions were about work in the winter months, which officials said will continue, weather permitting. Activities are to go forward on all contracts, Hippen said.

Those at Monday's meeting were curious about work on the Moline riverfront. According to Hippen, earthwork is being built up. Poor-quality materials were removed from the area and replaced with what he called "good, solid fill." The result will be an 18-20 foot tall embankment for the approach to the bridge, which will be accessible as it is now, from both River Drive and 7th Street. Some 50 trucks a day are hauling materials back and forth, Hippen said.

In addition, the city of Moline is providing support to reduce dust in the area, including water trucks to spray on debris. "But this is a dirty system," Hippen said.

There were several questions on the work along 7th Street and 19th Avenue, and Hippen said this is a complete redo of the intersection, including new storm sewers. That work also is related to the new bridge and should be completed in early December.

The main channel will be kept open for all the construction, except when the "handles" get placed on the middle section, Mulholland said.

In addition, a contractor is scheduled to pull down the existing bridge in 2021. That is expected to utilize a number of methods but not much dynamite because of the mussels in the area, Mulholland said. The debris will be recycled and none will be left in the river.

The new bridge is constructed entirely of stainless steel, which is very corrosion-resistant, Mulholland said. It is to be covered in concrete and there are structural monitors included, so officials can judge maintenance needs.

One man asked about generators, which he had spotted on a barge. These, Mulholland said, are used to drill through rock, and they all run simultaneously.

But officials were stumped at a question about the soldier on the monument, that used to be located near the existing bridge in Bettendorf. The formal name of the structure is the Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge, and the monument included a World War I soldier.

That monument was removed because of construction, Mulholland said, and will be relocated to Moline. A specific site has not been chosen and she did not know the name of the solider on the monument.

"But I'm going to look that up," she said.

The hope is to open the new bridge late in 2020, Hippen said. It is expected to last 100 years when completed.

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