With both spans of the new I-74 bridge now officially open to traffic, construction for another new bridge in the Quad Cities area could be just around the corner.

The Illinois and Iowa Departments of Transportation have plans in the works for a new I-80 bridge, which will replace the current one crossing the Mississippi River in LeClaire and Rapids City.

Plans for a new I-80 bridge have been circulating for roughly two years now, but Becky Marruffo, Engineer of Program Development for the Illinois Department of Transportation, says this is still only part one of their plans.

“It is really kind of step one. It’s kind of your shopping list, per se, where you say, ‘Well here’s the things that we’ve identified,'” said Marruffo

Marruffo says the latest and most significant development, though, is the Illinois DOT now has funding ready to go for the new bridge.

“It is included in IDOT’s multi-year program,” said Marruffo of the new I-80 bridge plans. “So that currently covers fiscal years 2022 through 2027.”

Marruffo says some of the main issues with the current I-80 bridge are its age — being built in 1966 — and its narrowness, being only two lanes on each side with hardly any shoulders.

“As anybody knows who’s driven over the structure, the shoulders are very limited, and that is — generally speaking — a safety concern,” said Marruffo.

While Marruffo does say the current bridge is still very safe, she says maintaining it has become very costly.

In fact, she says the departments anticipate that building an entirely new bridge may be cheaper than maintaining the current one in the long run, even though it will take multiple years to build a new one.

“When we have structures that have been in place for many decades, we start to consider the long-term costs of maintaining those structures and whether they’re serving their purpose for the motoring public,” said Marruffo. “Just like we did for I-74, you get to a certain point where you say, ‘Well, the maintenance costs are significant enough that we should start to consider replacing that structure.'”

Marruffo says she expects more updates on the new I-80 bridge plans to be announced next summer.