The Illinois Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Transportation, will hold an online public meeting on Wednesday, May 11, to present findings and receive public comment as part of the I-80 Mississippi River Bridge study.

The public meeting will be held online from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 11. Participants can register to attend the meeting by clicking here and logging in with a name and email address.

The Bison Bridge Foundation tweeted on Tuesday: “It’s crucial for the future of Bison Bridge that supporters of the project register and attend the meeting.”

In early April, the Illinois House approved a bipartisan resolution sponsored by Rep. Mike Halpin (D-Rock Island), backing the Bison Bridge Foundation’s proposal to repurpose the I-80 bridge over the Mississippi River.

Instead of tearing down the old I-80 bridge, the Bison Bridge Foundation seeks to repurpose it as a wildlife crossing for bison on one side and a bike/pedestrian path on the other.

The planned repurposed bridge would include a wildlife crossing on one side of the bridge and a park-like setting for bike and pedestrian traffic on the other.

Led by East Moline environmentalist Chad Pregracke (founder of Living Lands & Waters), the Bison Bridge Foundation has been meeting steadily with lawmakers, community leaders, local and regional stakeholders, engineers, and QC residents 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.

Bridge study

The I-80 Mississippi River Bridge study includes approximately six miles from the I-88/I-80 interchange in East Moline, to SW 35th Street in Bettendorf. The public is encouraged to attend the May 11th meeting to learn more about study findings to date and provide comment on potential improvement alternatives.

In addition to a video presentation, the meeting will include representatives from the Illinois and Iowa departments of transportation and the project consultant team. Exhibits will be available for review and the meeting will include a question-and-answer session.

The I-80 bridge over the Mississippi River connects Rapids City and LeClaire.

The I-80 bridge (which links LeClaire and Rapids City) was built in 1967 and is one of three major interstate bridges in the Quad Cities. The bridge has required significant repairs and rehabilitation in recent years and traffic is increasing with associated increases in vehicular crashes, according to the DOT.

The aging bridge continues to face costly maintenance expenses, and the roadway design does not meet current standards. In 2020, Illinois and Iowa conducted an online public meeting to introduce a Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) study of the bridge and corridor.

In the time since, the project team has developed and evaluated potential alternatives.

A PEL is a collaborative approach to transportation decision-making. It brings together experts, community members, and organizations to consider potential improvements to the area’s transportation network, and what the resulting impacts would be.

A PEL results in an early decision-making process between local, state and federal transportation agencies that smoothly advances and transitions a project from its early planning phase to the more detailed environmental review phase (also known as the National Environmental Policy Act phase).

The project’s Purpose and Need and the Alternatives to be Carried Forward for detailed evaluation will be determined during the PEL Study. The Preferred Alternative will be identified in the NEPA phase.

The Bison Bridge Foundation is working with the Illinois House on a privately-funded plan that would repurpose the existing I-80 bridge.

Consideration of public input and evaluation of safety, capacity and infrastructure will continue following the May 11 public meeting. Meeting materials and the video presentation will be available at any time after the meeting on the project website. Comments are always welcome. Those received through May 25 will become part of the public meeting record.

The study is expected to conclude in late 2023 with a report and recommendation of a preferred alternative.

Initiated by the Illinois Department of Transportation in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Transportation and under the jurisdiction of the Federal Highway Administration, the I-80 bridge study will coordinate with stakeholders to identify existing and future transportation problems and needs in the study area, with the project’s purpose and need used to develop proposed transportation improvements, or alternatives.

​The PEL study is expected to conclude in late 2022. The NEPA phase is expected to conclude in late 2023. For more information, visit the I-80 bridge website.