A sample of the new lighting on the I-74 bridge between Moline and Bettendorf. Lighting will change starting July 22, and each night for 30 days.

Construction of the new I-74 bridge over the Mississippi River won top honors today among Midwest states in the America’s Transportation Awards.

One of the biggest projects in state history and a transformational investment in infrastructure for the region, the new $1-billion bridge was recognized for improving safety and mobility, enhancing quality of life and positioning the Quad Cities area for future economic opportunity, according to a Wednesday release.

“We take particular pride in delivering projects that not only improve everyday life for residents but also keep Illinois competitive for years to come,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “This award is especially meaningful because it not only shows great teamwork between two states, but helps remind the public that IDOT is constantly working on their behalf to boost quality of life and community development as we modernize infrastructure through Gov. Pritzker’s historic Rebuild Illinois capital program.”

Testing of LED lighting for the new I-74 bridge done in November 2021 (courtesy of Iowa Department of Transportation).

Fully opened to traffic last December, the bridge has four lanes in each direction and provides improved safety for all travelers. The structure offers a 14-foot-wide bike and pedestrian path with a scenic overlook and connections to existing paths in Bettendorf and Moline.

The project includes twin river bridges, new interchanges, ramps and local road reconfigurations to improve mobility and operation, delivering safer and more reliable travel for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike, the release. The project was a collaborative effort of the departments of transportation in Iowa and Illinois.

A bird’s-eye view of the new twin arches of the I-74 bridge, which opened on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021.

The new bridge is an important east-west link in the nation’s transportation network. The I-74 corridor serves as a primary crossing of the Mississippi River in the QC area, carrying more than 45% of the region’s total vehicular traffic across the river.

Sponsored by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, America’s Transportation Awards recognize state DOTs for projects that make their communities better places to live, work and play.

“State DOTs are overwhelmingly focused on innovative solutions to address the transportation issues of today and tomorrow, meeting challenges involving climate change, equity, resiliency and safety,” said Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

“The America’s Transportation Awards program shows just how they’re doing that,” he said. “Whether on foot, in a vehicle, on two wheels, or by rail or transit, state DOTs are continuing to advance a safe, multimodal transportation system.”

The bike and pedestrian path on the new I-74 bridge.

In the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials region, eight states nominated 18 projects for this year’s competition. The following projects took home top regional honors in the 2022 America’s Transportation Awards contest:

  • Minnesota Department of Transportation — Trunk Highway 61 Grand Marais Reconstruction (Quality of Life/Community Development, Small category)
  • Michigan Department of Transportation — I-75 Freeway and I-75/M-46 Interchange Design-Build Project (Quality of Life/Community Development, Medium category—TIE)
  • Ohio Department of Transportation — Opportunity Corridor Section 3 (Quality of Life/Community Development, Medium category—TIE)
  • Iowa Department of Transportation & Illinois Department of Transportation — The Memorial Bridge (Interstate 74 Mississippi River Crossing) (Quality of Life/Community Development, Large category)
  • All MAASTO States (nominated by Iowa Department of Transportation) — Emergency Divisible Load Management (Operations Excellence, Small category)
  • Ohio Department of Transportation — Dorr Street Interchange and Widening of I-475 (Operations Excellence, Medium category)
  • Iowa Department of Transportation — Council Bluffs Interstate System Dual, Divided Freeway (Operations Excellence, Large category)
  • Michigan Department of Transportation — Adaptive Signal Control Technologies in Traverse City (Best Use of Technology and Innovation, Small category)

Earlier in July, the 74 bridge earned a National Award in the Major Span category of the 2022 Prize Bridge Awards, presented by the American Institute of Steel Construction and the National Steel Bridge Alliance.