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Bridge Pileup A Testament to Need For New Structure

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     Officials say the massive pile up on the Interstate 74 bridge Monday morning is a perfect example of why a new bridge is being built. More than 30 vehicles were involved and a dozen people injured in the accident just after 10 a.m. in the Iowa bound lanes.     

     The future bridge is expected to not only cut down on crashes, but make issues large and small easier to handle.  The I-74 bridge was found to have three times the crashes of typical corridors in the U.S. A large part of the problem: only two lanes each way and no shoulders, which we've known for years doesn't meet federal standards. The fix: a much wider structure, giving crews and other drivers more room to move around. Some new technology designers have planned should be able to give crews a better idea of the conditions on the roadway too.

     "If there's a crash up there there's no way for emergency vehicles to get to the vehicles that have been in the crash. And often it means actually closing the bridge on one end and coming up the wrong way," said Denise Bulat, Executive Director of the Bi-State Regional Commission.

     The new bridge will have double the lanes, four in each direction instead of two, along with full shoulders and fewer ramps. It's something agencies who respond to issues on the bridge have called for in the bridge design process.

     "Police departments on both sides of the river have been involved in the development of the bridge for the last few years. There's plenty of room on the bridge which should cut down on congestion and cut down on the number of accidents," said Bettendorf Police Chief Phil Redington.

      Or, when there is one, first responders should have an easier time reaching it and in most cases other traffic will still have room to move.

     "We should be able to isolate where the accident takes place," added Chief Redington.

     Along with traffic cameras like the ones law enforcement and IDOT utilized now there are going to be actual sensors within the pavement that tell if traffic has slowed or stopped. The technology can even monitor road conditions.

     "Should be able to tell what the temperature of the surface is and if there's issues with the surface," said Bulat. Since cold weather has contributed to several problems on area bridges recently, that's something many are looking forward to. "We'll have what we call in the transportation world better 'reliability,'" she added.

     Construction on the new I-74 bridge is slated to begin in 2017. It should take a few years to complete but a finish date is still being worked out.

 

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