Could construction in Moline delay first responders?

MOLINE - The first phase of several construction projects in Moline are coming to an end.
The work has caused some major delays over the past few months.

Starting tomorrow, 41st street in Moline will open northbound. Eastbound drivers on John Deere Road will also be able to use new lanes on Thursday.  Work along 19th Street and 7th Avenue is expected to wrap up in early December.

But some drivers are still worried about future construction and the risk closing lanes could cause in times of emergency. In an emergency, every second matters. 

First responders in Moline say that although construction projects have caused major delays and headaches for drivers. They were able to adapt to the route changes quickly. 

Ask most commuters...
And they'll say driving around any construction zone is one thing they don't look forward to.

"It kind of sucks that you have to loop around," said Moline resident Sean Sloan.

"It's pretty crowded. There's lots of cars you're lucky if you make every green light and if you think you're gonna make it you're not because they are tons of cars," said East Moline resident Sandra Sandoval. 

All the extra traffic and congestion facing Moline drivers is supposed to be worth it once the roads are smooth to ride on again.

But what happens when streets are closed off and emergency crews need to respond to a life or death situation?

The Moline fire and police departments tell Local 4 News they  had to find alternate emergency routes, but that learning curve was only a few days. 

"So the first couple of days you're like I can't go that way. You make a mental note of it and work your way around it," said Moline Detective Michael Griffin.

"We have a heads up we plan our routes accordingly that way we don't take up more time getting to our calls," said Griffin.

"Regardless of the emergency or the construction going on we're going to get there," said Moline Fire Inspector Jerry Spiegel.

On average, response time for the Moline Fire Department is anywhere from three to six minutes. And with construction, officials say that's no different.

"Even during the construction it's only adding a few more seconds if any at all. Depending on where they live in the city," said Spiegel.

Moline police say they've also managed to work around the construction. 

"We're mobile, we're out and about. When we're responding it changes every single call throughout the day,"  said Griffin. "It hasn't really caused a change in our response times."

Despite all the construction chaos, both departments say people don't have to worry if they're caught in the middle of an emergency.

"Anytime you call 911, you have an emergency going on we never get there fast enough, the fire department doesn't get there fast enough, but that's just part of the stress of an emergency response," said Griffin."But I assure you that we're going to get there every time, we'll get there quickly and be there where they need us."

Both departments also credit the smooth transition to having a great relationship with Moline Public Works. They say the agency keeps them in the loop before big construction projects happen around the city.


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