To keep the Interstate 74 Bridge project moving and to save time and money, project engineers say they have come up with a plan to complete construction on the I-74 lanes in Illinois between 7th Avenue and Avenue of the Cities in 2020.
The proposed change for Illinois traffic in Moline is that Illinois-bound traffic would cross the current bridge and exit at either River Drive or 7th Avenue.
To continue south on 74, drivers would exit at 7th Avenue and take 19th Street south to Avenue of the Cities, where they will get back on I-74.
Downtown access for northbound traffic on 19th Street will take 12th Avenue westbound to 16th Street.
This will allow workers to begin construction on the section of the interstate from 7th Avenue to Avenue of the Cities.
The detour will add about two to three minutes of drive time from Middle Road in Bettendorf to Avenue of the Cities in Moline. However, it would allow for the expansion and construction of the interstate between 7th Avenue and Avenue of the Cities.
“Doing the project this way will require an investment of a couple hundred thousand dollars,” said Ryan Hippen, an engineer with the Illinois Department of Transportation. “If we wait, the cost would be $6.7 million dollars.
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“What we’re trying to do with these changes is minimize project costs and delays,” Hippen said.
To delay would mean sending construction crews home until the Iowa-bound bridge is complete and then remobilizing the crews, he said. “We would be paying the monetary costs of the delay and the cost of remobilization,” Hippen said.
The new routes would be only for local traffic. Drivers passing through Moline on I-74 on the way to other destinations will be rerouted to I-80 and I-280 in order to cut down on traffic congestion.
Project leaders hope to move forward with the traffic rerouting plan quickly once they have approval.
At the same time, construction crews will work on the eastbound lanes of 74 in Bettendorf.
Until traffic can be made head-to-head in the westbound lanes, eastbound drivers on I-74 will exit the freeway at Middle Road and take Kimberly Road south to State Street, where they will get back on the interstate to cross the bridge into Illinois.
To configure westbound lanes for head-to-head traffic, the I-74 exit at Kimberly Road will need to be shut down for construction and then reopened, said George Ryan, of Wood Consulting. That change will be announced in 2020, he added.
Danielle Alvarez, an engineer with the Iowa Department of Transportation, said while there have been challenges, construction of the bridge is moving forward and the end result will be a safe bridge that will last for generations.