The Bison Bridge Foundation has announced a partnership with the University of Illinois and Iowa State University.

Both universities’ Departments of Landscape Architecture have committed to partnering with the non-profit organization, designed to foster student learning and engagement with the design and implementation of a park setting atop the repurposed I-80 bridge over the Mississippi River. Students from Iowa State have visited the proposed site of the project, and both schools will send students to the QCA in June for a meeting with members of the Bison Bridge team to discuss design ideas and the overall goals of the Bison Bridge project. The Bison Bridge team formed in 2019 and is comprised of experts from across multiple industries, garnering support and attention from lawmakers, business owners, private citizens and interest groups.

Both schools’ departments are looking forward to assisting with the project as a way to provide students with opportunities to put what they’ve learned in school to work on a real project. “It’s a super cool, once in a lifetime project, and we’re excited our students will have the chance to be involved with it moving forward,” Tom Neppl, professor of Landscape Architecture at Iowa State, said. “Many are from Iowa or Illinois, and for a project of this vision and scale to be taking place in their home state is a unique opportunity as well.”

“By integrating infrastructural and ecological systems, the Bison Bridge provides a proof of concept for a path forward where human development isn’t at odds with natural systems, but rather they mutually benefit each other,” Conor O’Shea, assistant professor in the University of Illinois’s Landscape Architecture Department, wrote in an official letter of endorsement on behalf of the university. “The University of Illinois Department of Landscape Architecture is excited to partner with the Bison Bridge Foundation and for our faculty and students to collaborate in developing the project.”

Chad Pregracke, founder and president of Living Lands & Waters, credits the success of his river cleanup operation to the thousands of volunteers and partners he has worked with over the years. “The more people who get involved, the better,” Pregracke said. “I am thrilled to work with students from Iowa State and University of Illinois. We are determined to create a one-of-a-kind destination. A park and pedestrian crossing over the Mississippi River will be the kind of attraction that makes home better for locals and draws people from all over the world.”

For more information on the Bison Bridge project, click here.