The Bison Bridge Foundation has announced a significant private pledge commitment of $4 million to support the organization’s plans for the Bison Bridge project. The project, announced publicly in March of 2021, would see the current I-80 bridge repurposed into a pedestrian and wildlife crossing, with the ultimate goal being to create a state or national park at the site, a news release says.

The pledged amount of $4 million consists of a private, anonymous $2 million commitment and another $2 million commitment from the same donor’s family foundation, the release says.

Led by East Moline environmentalist Chad Pregracke (founder of Living Lands & Waters), the Bison Bridge Foundation has met steadily with lawmakers, community leaders, local and regional stakeholders, engineers, and QC residents to present its proposal to repurpose the I-80 bridge.

The donor, who has asked to remain anonymous, is in the transportation industry and his personal roots are tied to the Mississippi River. Pregracke says the donor is a friend of his who has deep appreciation for the Mississippi River.

The announcement comes just days before the Illinois Department of Transportation will host a public meeting about progress on the I-80 River Crossing project. Both the Iowa Department of Transportation and Illinois Department of Transportation will have stakeholders present during the web-based public meeting to describe the potential alignments for the new I-80 bridge.

Pregracke and the Bison Bridge team always have maintained that the Bison Bridge project would be entirely privately funded with no taxpayer dollars needed to develop and maintain the bridge and surrounding park acreage.

The Bison Bridge team has not officially raised funds yet in spite of receiving 501(c)3 status earlier this year. “We are waiting for a green light from IDOT to start fundraising at large and this commitment was the first ask I made,” says Pregracke. “We are hoping that this financial commitment in addition to the nearly 40,000 signatures of support we have collected will strengthen our case to the DOTs.”

Information about the IDOT public meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, can be found here. This is also the website for public comments and questions pertaining to the project.

Information about the Bison Bridge Foundation and their proposed project can be found here.