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Bison Bridge proposal gets bi-partisan support from the Illinois House

Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 4:05 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KWQC) - Illinois lawmakers adopted a bi-partisan resolution sponsored by Representative Mike Halpin (D-Rock Island) in support of the Bison Bridge Foundation’s proposal to repurpose the Interstate 80 bridge over the Mississippi River. The proposed Bison Bridge would include a wildlife crossing on one side of the bridge and a park-like setting for foot traffic on the other.

Led by East Moline environmentalist, Chad Pregracke, the Bison Bridge Foundation has been meeting steadily with lawmakers, community leaders, local and regional stakeholders, engineers, and residents of the Quad Cities to present their proposal to repurpose the I-80 bridge. To date, the group has collected almost 40,000 signatures of support on their website at www.bisonbridge.org.

The Illinois Department of Transportation has determined the need for a new crossing to replace the existing Interstate 80 bridge which crosses the Mississippi River between Rapids City, Illinois and LeClaire, Iowa. The I-80 River Crossing project is currently in Phase I while IDOT completes their initial study and develops proposed alternatives for the new structure. IDOT continues to provide updates on the progress of Phase I at https://www.i80mississippibridge.com/, a website dedicated to the project.

Before any decisions are made about a new crossing, the Illinois Department of Transportation must conduct the NEPA review process on behalf of the Federal Highways Administration. NEPA, or National Environmental Policy Act, requires federal agencies to conduct an environmental review study to determine and consider potential environmental impacts of a proposed project. The Bison Bridge team now looks to the next phase of the NEPA process to continue to attract support for their proposal. In this next phase, IDOT will conduct requisite public meetings designed to incorporate public input as early as May 2022.

Co-sponsors of the resolution include Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna), Rep. Dan Swanson (R-Woodhull), House Republican Leader Ryan Spain (R-Peoria), House Republican Leader Norrine Hammond (R-Macomb), and House Transportation Committee Leader Martin J. Moylan (D-DesPlaines).

Pregracke is hopeful that the support shown by the Illinois House in passing HR0699 is indicative of the kind of bi-partisan support the Bison Bridge inspires. “We have gained significant public interest in our proposal to create something truly transformative and impactful. Support for the Bison Bridge project spans both sides of the River and both sides of the aisle, making it a project that we can all get excited about.”

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