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New bridge, new problems: Standing water has led to crashes on I-74
I-74 BRIDGE

New bridge, new problems: Standing water has led to crashes on I-74

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A section of the completed span of the new Interstate 74 bridge is slow to drain rain water, resulting in multiple traffic crashes above 7th Avenue in Moline. At least a half-dozen crashes occurred in the same spot over the weekend. Transportation officials say the problem is attributable to the barricades that are in place to accommodate two-way traffic, and the issue goes away when the eastbound span opens later this year.

For the second time in less than three weeks, standing water on the new I-74 bridge is being blamed for multi-vehicle crashes in Moline.

Heavy spring rains are slow to drain away from the new driving surface on the Illinois-bound lanes, prompting Moline Police to issue hazard warnings to the public. During weekend rains, at least six crashes occurred in the same spot above 7th Avenue.

Several vehicles hydroplaned, police said, meaning standing water caused vehicles' tires to lose contact with the road surface.

The Illinois Department of Transportation is assuring that the water issue soon will be resolved.

"I-74 is currently in a temporary two-way configuration, and we’re using nearly the entire width of the roadway, including the shoulders where water is directed to drains," I-74 Corridor Manager George Ryan said Monday. "The current traffic configuration near the 7th Avenue overpass requires temporary median barriers, which limits access to the new drains and causes water to drain slower.

"Water on the Iowa-bound side of the roadway has access to more drains. We are confident that drainage will improve when we implement the next traffic stage, which shifts Illinois-bound traffic onto the new pavement just after crossing the river bridge into Moline."

In mid-summer, Ryan said, traffic will be moved off the shoulders and the temporary barriers will be removed, which will allow water to properly drain.

Meanwhile, signs soon will be added to warn motorists about the potential for standing water. Slower driving, especially in rain, also will help, he said, and drivers should remember that I-74 is an active construction zone.

The Moline Police Department recently posted two warnings on the agency's Facebook page to notify drivers of the water danger.

"Due to the amount of rainfall, we are once again experiencing water buildup on the (current) Illinois bound portion of the new I-74 River Bridge," Saturday's post read. "The water buildup begins as you near the 7th Avenue overpass, which has caused seven motor vehicle crashes already today."

On Monday, police clarified there had been six crashes, including four vehicles that hydroplaned and two caused by traffic backups from the other two crashes.

While the Illinois State Police has jurisdiction over the bridge, Moline police respond because they are closer. State police took over traffic control during the weekend crashes.

"Traffic hazard alert!!!," was posted on the police department's Facebook account on March 23. "Due to standing water, several vehicles are hydroplaning on the southbound lanes of the new I-74 River Bridge.

"Officers are currently handling several multi-vehicle crashes and traffic will be delayed while they get the area cleaned up. If you can avoid the area, please find an alternate route."

Motorists also have noticed a slanting section of roadway in an Iowa-bound lane of the new bridge. Also above 7th Avenue, the section is meant to be a shoulder and is being used temporarily, DOT officials said.

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