The old Interstate 74 bridge, which is reduced to one lane and one exit, is likely to be a well-used route for many of those taking part in next weekend's Quad-City Times Bix 7.
While the Mississippi River isn't on the Bix course, many out-of-town visitors will be getting their first look at — and first drive across — the new I-74 bridge and what is left of the remaining span of the old bridge.
Locals have become accustomed to changing routes and ramp closures, but navigating the spans is not entirely intuitive.
For instance: The only direct route between downtown Bettendorf and Moline is the soon-to-be demolished, 71-year-old eastbound span, which is reduced to one lane and has no shoulders.
If using the old bridge, motorists must exit onto Moline's River Drive. In the same area of River Drive, an on-ramp now is open to the new Iowa-bound span, which currently accommodates two-way traffic.
"With all the orange on I-74 in the Quad Cities right now, it might seem a bit daunting to visitors trying to navigate the area," said I-74 corridor manager George Ryan, of Wood Environment and Infrastructure Solutions, Inc. "But a lot of coordination has gone into ensuring locals and visitors alike can get to their destination with ease through multiple points of access, even during construction.
"At this time, one of the newly completed I-74 bridges — the Iowa-bound/westbound bridge — is open and set up for two-way traffic for motorists going to Iowa and Illinois. Motorists going to Illinois can access the new I-74 bridge at or north of Middle Road in Bettendorf, with 6th Avenue serving as the first available exit in Moline or motorists can continue on to other exits.
"The old Illinois-bound/eastbound suspension bridge is also open for local traffic in downtown Bettendorf going directly to River Drive in Moline. Having two Illinois-bound routes available reduces congestion and helps motorists get to Moline and I-280. No matter which bridge you choose, you’ll be able to get to your destination, just remember to watch for signs directing motorists to the available routes."
The timing of the Bix coincides with traffic-pattern changes that are a hallmark of any major road-and-bridge project. This time, the changes are impacting both sides of the river.
Those making a particularly early dash for downtown Davenport on July 24 will encounter a detour if coming from the east on Grant Street/US 67 in Bettendorf.
Ryan said motorists should be aware that Grant Street will be closed overnight and until 6 a.m. during Bix week.
"The Grant St/US 67 closures will be at night between about 10 PM and 6 AM.," Ryan wrote in an email. "Prior to that, the road will be reduced to one lane in each direction starting at about 7 p.m. each night.
"A detour will be in place during the closures."
With the closure comes another opening.
"Contractors completed a section of Illinois-bound I-74 just south of the 6th Ave exit, and we’re getting ready to put traffic on it," he said.
By the 2022 Bix, some runners may opt to cross the Mississippi on foot or by bicycle on the Illinois-bound span's new bike and pedestrian path. Construction of the path in Moline is well underway.
"Crews are making progress on the part of the bike and pedestrian path from Moline to the south side of the arch," Ryan said. "... after all the arch floor sections are installed, we’ll begin installing steel for the portion of the bike and pedestrian path that includes a scenic overlook."
A portion of the overlook will have a glass floor.
In other recent progress:
• The arch deck floor was completed this past week on the eastbound bridge.
• More than half of the 15 spans of the eastbound river bridge have been poured.
"The arch floor will be poured in three sections once all deck sections, plywood, and reinforcement are in place," Ryan said. "All structures in Moline are complete, and contractors have begun pouring spans of the viaduct in Bettendorf, just north of the riverbank."