BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) — The I-74 Bridge has a long history of linking the Quad Cities and now a new chapter is about to be written.
The original span of the I-74 Bridge opened to traffic in 1935. It took 25 years for the second span to open in 1960. Today, the bridge is over capacity, with more than 70,000 vehicles crossing it every day.
With the green suspension bridge in the background, on Monday, June 26, 2017, a groundbreaking ceremony for a new bridge was held on the Berttendorf riverfront.
"This is a great day for the people if Illinois and Iowa," said Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) Ill. He joined Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) Iowa and several Quad City mayors.
"This is a big deal," said Davenport Mayor Frank Klipsch. He pointed out that the bridge serves 103,000 people in Davenport and 450,000 people living in the Quad Cities.
"This is all about collaboration," Klipsch added. He said it "connects all people in the Quad Cities physically, culturally and economically."
It's been a project that's been decades in the making.
The initial environmental study for the $1.4 billion project was submitted in 2005. A proposed site was selected in 2012, but the state of Illinois said it couldn't afford to fund the project and the Iowa Department of Transportation pulled its funding, as well.
Funding got back on track in 2013. Construction was well underway in 2014 on nearby roads and ramps in Moline and Bettendorf.
Businesses and buildings in the path of the new bridge were relocated and by 2015, demolition started on some of those structures.
It wasn't just businesses that needed to move to make way for the
project. In 2016, environmental crews finished moving 450,000 mussels to a new habitat and safely out of the path of construction.
2016 also saw the start of what's called 'pre-staging' work. Crews prepared travel lanes for the first phase of construction.
The work is set to start in the water next month, with one side of the bridge expected to be up by December of 2019. The full project is expected to be complete in 2021.
With no current budget agreement for the State of Illinois, some wonder whether funding of the project will collapse. An official with the Illinois Department of Transportation told KWQC-TV6 that if there is no budget, Iowa will fund the project until Illinois can pay the money back.