Westbound span of new I-74 Bridge receives 2022 Prize Bridge Award

Published: Jul. 12, 2022 at 5:53 PM CDT
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QUAD CITIES, Iowa/Ill. (KWQC) - The American Institute of Steel Construction and the National Steel Bridge Alliance award steel bridges across the country every two years for the design, construction and benefit the bridge proves to the public.

The westbound span of the new I-74 Mississippi River Bridge was nominated, because at the time nominations were due it was the only span that was open to vehicle traffic.

The westbound span received the 2022 Prize Bridge Award in the “Major Span” category.

“The bridge is such a dramatic structure, and such a dramatic change to the Quad Cities skyline,” said Thomas Murphy, senior vice president of Modjeski and Masters, one of the design engineering firms that drew up the design of the I-74 Bridge project.

Quad Citians had been waiting decades for a new I-74 Bridge. The Iowa-bound span of the new bridge opened in November 2020, with the Illinois-bound span opening late last year.

“It’s taller, it’s bigger, it’s wider. And it’s just a dramatic improvement to the crossings of the Mississippi here,” said Murphy.

Modjeski and Masters nominated the steel bridge for the Prize Bridge Award because of its unique and innovative use of steel in the construction.

“We developed a very high strength stainless steel that’s used to connect the arches to the concrete. And that’s a pretty unique aspect to the design. As well as some other areas of the bridge that use some more advanced steel chemistries,” said Murphy.

The firm was also the designer of the old spans of the I-74 Bridge, as well as the Government Bridge back in the 1800s.

There is a particular part of the new I-74 Bridge that makes it unique from others across the country.

“It’s just a huge source of pride, you know. For us, there were 40 engineers on our firm that worked on this project over the years, for over a decade,” said Andrew Keaschall, the Illinois Division Manager of Alfred Benesch and Company, one of the lead contracting firms for the I-74 Mississippi River Bridge project.

Keaschall said each of the arch ribs bring nearly 20 millions pounds of force to the Mississippi River bedrock.

A Rock Falls native, this project was person for Keaschall.

“Being able to kind of bring an infrastructure improvement to take out the curves, to make it safer, and then also deliver such an iconic structure at the same time, is really the type of project that they don’t come along that often,” said Keaschall.

After all the hard work the men and women put into the construction of the bridge, the national attention is rewarding for all involved.

“It’s just a huge source of pride, you know. For us, there were 40 engineers on our firm that worked on this project over the years,” said Murphy.

The project is not quite complete.

“The original bridges, built in, one in the 1920s and one in the 50s, they will be demolished. There will be a lot of work on the bridge decks and a lot of preparatory work that will eventually lead up to what’s likely to be explosive demolition of the suspension bridges,” said Keaschall.

The details of when and exactly how the old bridges will be demolished has not been determined. TV6 has reached out to the Iowa Department of Transportation to find out more information on the plans.

Beyond the old bridges coming down, Keaschall said there are still plans to add an elevator for access to the pedestrian path in Bettendorf, to ensure the path is ADA compliant.

The I-74 Bridge project was a partnership with the Iowa and Illinois DOT, Modjeski and Masters, Alfred Benesch and Company, HNTB, Industrial Steel Construction, Inc., Tenca Steel Detailing, and many other partners.

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