The Bison Bridge team announced Thursday that H.W. Lochner, Inc., an Illinois firm with decades of expertise in design, structural analysis, construction engineering and inspection, will serve as the lead engineering firm for the grassroots effort to repurpose the I-80 bridge. 

“We are excited to partner with the Bison Bridge Foundation on this one-of-a-kind bridge project,” Paul Loete, professional engineer and Illinois area manager for H.W. Lochner, Inc. said in a news release. “Our firm brings decades of inspection experience that will help ensure a safe and structurally sound design for the ‘new’ Bison Bridge.”

Loete, who has 26 years of engineering experience, will oversee the project on behalf of Lochner. Loete is the former chief engineer and director of highways project Implementation for the Illinois Department of Transportation. 

In 2010, Lochner was selected by the Illinois Department of Transportation to provide statewide structural engineering services for structure inspections, structural rehabilitation plans and load ratings, as directed. The I-80 bridge over the Mississippi River was a part of the structural inspections. Lochner inspected the I-80 bridge in March and December of 2010, which allows for the extensive knowledge of both the bridge’s history and current structural conditions, the release says.

Lochner also has experience with designing long-span river crossings, as well as ground/landscape covered bridges. The company was the lead designer for the Urban Lids project in Seattle, Washington, which was successfully completed in 2015. Urban Lids was a $365 million, urban highway improvement project that provided needed congestion relief through an integrated, multi-modal operational system, as well as reconstruction of a complex urban corridor. 

“Thank you to Lochner Engineering for believing in this project and bringing their expertise to what I hope will become a national treasure for our community and people from all over the world to enjoy,” said Chad Pregracke, founder and chairman of the Bison Bridge Foundation. “We are proud of the worldwide support that this unique way of repurposing the I-80 bridge has gained and look forward to sharing more about the many benefits this project will bring to the region.” 

The proposed Bison Bridge project is a land bridge, consisting of a wildlife and recreational crossing connecting the Illinois and Iowa riverfronts on the Mississippi River. The project has gained supporters across six continents. Currently, Bison Bridge has two interns working Quad City events to collect signatures of support all summer. The online petition to support the Bison Bridge has more than 35,000 signatures. 

For more information about the Bison Bridge project, visit here.