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Illinois and Iowa DOTs lay out 7 options for new I-80 bridge

Bison Bridge still up in the air
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 12:06 AM CDT
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LECLAIRE, Iowa and ROCK ISLAND CO., Ill. (KWQC) - The proposed Bison Bridge project could still become a reality, but its future depends on where Iowa and Illinois state officials decide to locate the new I-80 bridge.

During a public virtual meeting Wednesday afternoon, the Illinois and Iowa Departments of Transportation alongside engineers from Parsons Transportation Group laid out seven different options for the new bridge over the Mississippi River.

Out of those options, four allow for the Bison Bridge project to become a reality, However, due to the National Environmental Protection Act, or NEPA, the study can’t consider the project in their decision-making process.

“It is too early to speculate on the future of the current bridge and its ability to be reused for [the Bison Bridge] or any other purpose,” Tony Pakeltis with Parsons said.

Option One involves demolishing the old bridge and reconstructing the new one on the same path.

None of the options will consider improving the existing bridge. Options Two and Three move the new bridge to either side of the old bridge keeping it intact.

Next, options Four and Five will see two bridges being built side to side. The current bridge would stay up as one new bridge is built, then it would be demolished and replaced with another new structure. The only difference is in which side the first bridge will be built on.

Finally, options Six and Seven will change the path of the new bridge either east or west, with the old bridge staying in place.

NEPA requires decisions to be made regardless of outside factors like the Bison Bridge or economic impacts. Instead, Becky Marruffo with Illinois DOT said consideration must be placed on the human impact first.

“NEPA is law,” Marruffo said. “NEPA specifically states there can not be any undue outside influence on the determination on what meets the purpose and need.”

After listing to the presentation, Chad Pregracke with the Bison Bridge Foundation still has hope for the project. He said the next step is for the public to speak out during the comment period.

“I thought it was very upbeat and promising,” Pregracke said. “Most of those questions were related or comments were related to keeping the existing structure and using it for the pedestrian bridge and Bison Bridge.”

The study for the new Bridge will accept comments for Public Record about the potential options through May 25.

Comments can be made on the study’s website. Materials and Wednesday’s presentation can also be found on the I-80 bridge website.

The committee will then narrow down some options for another presentation and public comment period later this summer. This phase of the study will then hold an additional public comment period next year, with final findings being reported late in 2023.

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