The team proposing the Bison Bridge project is once again hoping to draw supporters to join the upcoming public meeting hosted by the Illinois Department of Transportation concerning the I-80 Bridge over the Mississippi River.

The public meeting, held as a virtual webinar, is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 27, at 4 p.m., and will include representatives from the Iowa and Illinois Departments of Transportation and from Parsons. According to the official project website HERE, the purpose of the third public meeting will be to provide additional study information, a narrowed list of alternative placements for the new bridge, and to request feedback from the meeting participants.

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

The Bison Bridge team is not advocating for any of the specific bridge alternatives but rather hoping supporters of the project will participate in the meeting and submit comments of support to be included in the public record, according to a Thursday release from Chad Pregracke, head of Living Lands & Waters and leader of the privately-funded Bison Bridge plan.

The last public meeting for the I-80 bridge crossing was on May 11, 2022. Hundreds of Bison Bridge supporters logged on and left comments.

Pregracke said Thursday he was thrilled with the turnout at the May meeting and is hoping to see attendance double next week.

“We’ve been continuing to work on the Bison Bridge project, refining our ideas, developing partnerships, and learning from other successful repurposed infrastructure projects from all over the country,” he said. “This is your chance to join our efforts and let the Departments of Transportation know that we want to make this project a reality for the Quad Cities.”

At the May meeting, the panelists provided seven alternatives for the new crossing; not all of them would allow for the repurposing of the existing bridge, according to the release.

The Bison Bridge plan would repurpose one side of the old 80 bridge as a wildlife habitat for bison and the other side for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Absent from any of the alternatives presented was a pedestrian and/or cycling lane. With existing paths on both sides of the river, outdoor enthusiasts had been hoping for a pedestrian crossing at I-80.

The Bison Bridge team is hopeful that this will further encourage support of the Bison Bridge project, which would provide a parklike setting atop the bridge for pedestrians, cyclists, and wheelchair access across the river.

The plan website says the concept is like no other such bridge in the U.S., consisting of a wildlife and recreational crossing connecting the Illinois and Iowa riverfronts on the Mississippi. “With the right support, we hope to turn it into a National Park site for visitors to enjoy for generations,” the site says.

Registration for the meeting is free and open now HERE. To learn more about the Bison Bridge project, click HERE.