The Illinois and Iowa Departments of Transportations have chosen an alternative to replacing the I-80 Mississippi River bridge that requires demolition of the existing bridge.

The chosen alignment necessitates the demolition of the existing I-80 bridge (between LeClaire and Rapids City), “dealing a significant setback to the Bison Bridge Foundation’s mission of transforming the bridge into a pedestrian crossing and public space,” according to a Wednesday release from the foundation and its leader, Chad Pregracke.

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

The foundation acknowledges the disappointment felt by the community and expresses deep gratitude for the unwavering support received throughout this challenging journey, the release says.

“As we navigate this challenging moment, we urge our supporters to visit and leave comments before November 29th in the DOT’s public record,” said Pregracke, president and founder of the Bison Bridge Foundation, which proposed repurposing of the old bridge for a pedestrian and wildlife crossing. “Your voices are a crucial part of the ongoing conversation, advocating for the Bison Bridge and its positive impact on our community.”

“While the outcome is not what we had hoped for, we appreciate the opportunity to have been part of the decision-making process. The Bison Bridge project faces new challenges, and we are evaluating the next steps to determine the best course of action,” Pregracke added.

The DOTs held a virtual public meeting Wednesday, Nov. 15, presenting the preferred alternative for the $288-million project to replace the 57-year-old I-80 bridge.

The Bison Bridge Foundation advocated and raised private funds to repurpose the old 80 bridge for a pedestrian and wildlife crossing (

Established in 2020, the Bison Bridge Foundation was dedicated to repurposing the I-80 bridge into a multi-use path and public park space. The foundation also aims to develop the Illinois visitor center, offering the largest publicly accessible EV charging capacity in the state.

Additionally, plans had called for shepherding a small herd of bison on both sides of the river. The Bison Bridge aims to be a destination park celebrating the significance of the Mississippi River and the prairie, providing public space and access to a treasured natural resource, and creating tourism and economic development in the Quad Cities and surrounding region.

Chad Pregracke, head and founder of Living Lands and Waters, also created and leads the Bison Bridge Foundation.

“The Bison Bridge Foundation has been tirelessly advocating for preserving and transforming this iconic structure for over four years, gaining significant national media attention, nearly 40,000 signatures of support, and the endorsement of local and regional clubs, groups, and elected officials from both sides of the river,” a release earlier this week said.

The bridge Phase I study completion is expected in mid-2024. Following completion of the study, it’s anticipated that the next phase of engineering will begin, involving the development of detailed contract plans for the selected improvement alternative.

For more information, visit the I-80 bridge website HERE.