Sylvan Island Bridge: Rebuild or Replace - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Sylvan Island Bridge: Rebuild or Replace

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The bridge connecting Sylvan Island to Moline has been closed for several months now.

The island is on the south shore of Arsenal Island and the bridge connecting Sylvan to the Moline shore has been in place since 1901.

The Moline Park Board wants to reopen the bridge and now has a better idea of what it would cost to do so.

The latest report confirmed what other bridge inspections have revealed over the last four years.

The bridge is unsafe, parts of the substructure of the bridge show a 50 percent corrosion rating and you can see in places, the bridge deck has holes in it, where rust has eaten away at metal supporting the asphalt.

Moline is not giving up on this bridge though, and the report lays out two options for the park board to consider.

"For us to have it open, that would be ideal, we recognize the challenges that the city council and the park board are facing," says Harris Elias.

He belongs to Friends of Off Road Cycling. It's the group that puts on the Sylvan Island Stampede, a mountain bike race on trails the group has built and maintained on the island. They held this year's stampede in mid-April, just weeks before the city closed off access.

"The first priority that we have is to get the island utilized in the way that it was intended and the way that it has in the last few years," says Elias.

While the Sylvan Island bridge remains closed, activities that once took place on the island will have to take place elsewhere, for example the Taming of the Slough will move its Sylvan Island portion of its race to Campbells' Island.

The park board says reopening the bridge is a top priority for the city, but the options in front of it aren't free. The repair estimate, $1.8 million. The bridge is covered in rust, and has pieces that are 50 percent damaged. A replacement estimate is cheaper. 1.2 million, and the recommended structure would be a little bigger and could hold more weight. Allowing an ambulance to cross if needed, something the current bridge can't allow even as more people have used the island.

"It's very unique to have mountain biking in an urban setting, and to have it so close to a revitalized downtown in Moline, it's just an absolute gem, it's a little bit of wild right in downtown Moline," says Elias.

The park board made no decisions on the study Thursday.

It's going to gather more information about the bridge, whether it has any historical value, or whether pieces of it could be reused if it chooses to build new.

It just knows it wants a bridge open again to get people across the water.

Once the park board makes a recommendation it will forward its decision to the city council.

From there council members will have to find a way to fund any bridge project the city feels is appropriate.

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