A major construction project brought not one, but two governors to the Quad Cities on Monday.
“We tend to pay attention more when we cross a bridge and we do that because we know something special and big is about to happen,” said Director of the Iowa Department of Transportation Mark Lowe. “And that’s especially true when you cross a natural wonder like the Mississippi River.”
Dozens and dozens of people joined state and city leaders to dig shovels into the dirt for the first time at Leach Park in Bettendorf, the Mississippi River and current I-74 bridge standing tall in the background.
Even Lowe remembers his first encounter with the bridge as a child when his family moved to the City of Bettendorf.
“When we came in at about 9 o’clock at night across this bridge, I was plastered to my window looking out the window looking at the lights shining on the water and realizing something big and special was happening in my life,” said Lowe.
That’s what everyone is looking for the structure to be: not just a bridge, but a symbol of prosperity.
“This extraordinary accomplishment began at the local level, with local leaders from both sides of the river working together becoming one voice and making this a reality,” said Bettendorf Mayor Pro-tem Debe LeMar.
“It will serve as a foundation for all our prosperity,” said Moline Mayor Stephanie Acri. “This bridge will be a conduit to intertwine our unique strengths and better support our shared good fortune.”
Both Illinois governor Bruce Rauner and Iowa governor Kim Reynolds helped to break ground on the Interstate 74 bridge project.
“This type of collaboration and cooperation I think deserves special attention,” said Reynolds. “And and it’s something that we should be absolutely proud of.”
“Midwest is the heart of America and we as Midwesterners have to stick together,” said Rauner. “When Iowa wins, Illinois wins and when Illinois wins, Iowa wins. We are together in this . We are the heart of transportation in America and we need to do everything we can to enhance our infrastructure and our transportation.”
Work is set to begin on the new bridge in July. Wisconsin-based Lunda Construction will lead the project. The bridge is expected to be completed by November 2020.