Mississippi River Crossing Needs and Other Crossing Strategies Mississippi River crossings continue to be the highest transportation
priority in the Quad Cities with over 170,000 vehicles crossing the Mississippi
River on an average day and almost half of these crossings on the I-74 Bridge alone.
The economy of the Quad Cities depends on adequate crossing capacity as we seek
to exhibit a market population of 375,000. Based on U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey data, approximately 27% of the Quad Cities’ resident labor force, work outside of their home county. This includes those who travel across state lines for their job. Over 20 percent of those
employed work outside of their state of residence. The I-74 Bridge is extremely
important to the commerce of the area. Interstate 74 is the major north/south
corridor in the Quad City area and provides for the movement of people and goods
to employment centers, entertainment venues and commercial and industrial sites.
The I-74 Bridge provides access to one of the few military arsenals in the United
States, Rock Island Arsenal. It is also important to the economy
of the States of Illinois and Iowa as it provides for interstate commerce and
connections to major U.S. markets. The Quad Cities has a 37.4 million person market
area within a 300-mile radius that includes almost 13 percent of the nation’s population.
There is an urgent need to address congestion on the I-74 Bridge. This bridge
is carrying almost 78,000 vehicles per day and is significantly over capacity.
The bridge itself is functionally obsolete and is not constructed to acceptable
standards for Interstate driving conditions. The bridge has no shoulders and the
ramps nearest the bridge have inadequate weaving lanes. Approximately 125 crashes
occur on and near the I-74 Bridge in a one year period. Improvements to address
these capacity and safety concerns are necessary.
i74-mrc-bro.pdf (679.4 KB) Download the I-74 Mississippi River Crossings Brochure
Background on the Crossing Strategy To examine Quad Cities crossing needs, a study was conducted
between 1996 and 1998 that culminated in the identification of three crossing
improvements in the Quad Cities. These included removal of the tolls on the Centennial
Bridge, adding capacity/lanes in the I-74 Bridge corridor and constructing a new
bridge halfway between the existing I-74 and I-80 bridges. Although work toward
implementation of the three crossing improvements is expected to move forward
concurrently, it is understood by both public and private sector leaders, the
actual completion will occur incrementally depending on the complexity and availability
of funding for each effort. It is also felt that this three-phased approach will
address crossing needs well into this century for 25-50 years.
Centennial Bridge/Short Term Efforts: The removal of the tolls
on the Centennial Bridge was completed in the short term to relieve some
congestion on the I-74 Bridge. Traffic
on the Government Bridge was also relieved. The Iowa
and Illinois DOT's worked with the Cities of Davenport, Iowa and Rock
Island, Illinois to accept ownership of the Centennial Bridge, which is also designated
as U.S. Highway 67. Removal of tolls allowed the bridge to be more fully utilized
reducing traffic on other crowded bridges. Tolls were removed in 2003 with
the transfer of jurisdiction completed in 2005.
Another short term effort includes the use of Intelligent Transportation System
(ITS) technology to handle non-recurring incidents like crashes and disabled vehicles.
An ITS study was conducted for the I-74 corridor which identified signage
and advanced warning system projects that will improve operation in the corridor
both before and after the I-74 project is complete.
I-74/Mid Term Efforts: Improvements of the capacity and operation
of the I-74 corridor itself is seen as a need that can be addressed in the mid-term
due to the complexity of the problems as noted earlier. The I-74 Corridor Study, has examined solutions
designed to improve traffic flow and address safety issues along the I-74 corridor.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been completed and the Final EIS has begun. The project is being funded jointly by the Iowa and Illinois Departments of Transportation
in close coordination with other federal and state agencies and local officials.
The appropriation of almost $15 million in federal funds over the past few years has made
these efforts possible.
of this project will be complicated: a new wider bridge structure will be needed,
along with major improvements to interchanges. Projects of this complex nature
take time but because this corridor is an interstate and is identified on the
National Highway System it is felt that federal funds are more likely available
for the improvement. The preliminary engineering effort and final EIS is expected to be complete
by mid 2007. Although refined project costs are still being developed it is estimated
that, due to the size and complexity of the project, funding in the
next transportation act the current act and along with multi-year funding will be required.
New Bridge Between East Moline and Bettendorf/Long Term Efforts:
Finally, crossing capacity east of I-74 is needed for the nine-mile un-served
area of the Quad Cities. An origin destination analysis conducted with the 1996-1998
Crossing Study noted above, showed a strong desire for a crossing in the eastern
half of the metropolitan area. This would encourage appropriate land use development
and infill of the urban area. Unfortunately, while this bridge provides access
to an un-served area of our community, the bridge would not significantly relieve
traffic on the I-74 bridges. The Crossing Study showed only 2000 vehicles per
day would deter to this bridge.
This bridge is not on a state or federal highway or on the National Highway System;
therefore, acquisition of state or federal dollars for both construction and maintenance
is less likely. In fact, following the completion of the crossing study, the Secretary
of the Illinois DOT and the Director of the Iowa DOT sent a joint letter to Quad
City officials stating “… it is our belief that the discussion of this project
in the context of a short-range program is premature. However, because of strong
local support, the project could be identified as a long-term need”.
In 1999 Quad City local governments agreed, through the Transportation Policy
Committee, on a strategy to consider the feasibility of creating a
transportation authority that would utilize a locally imposed sales tax to construct
the bridge and address other roadway needs. Through the efforts of a task force
of local leaders and local government funding, a public survey of 1,000 adults
in Scott and Rock Island Counties was conducted. Results showed that
over 70 percent of persons surveyed supported this concept. A location study would be needed for the East Bridges. In
addition, both federal and state legislative language to form a Transportation Authority.
Conclusion Adequate Mississippi River Crossing capacity is imperative for
the long term transportation needs and economic viability of the Quad Cities.
Through a rigorous alternatives analysis, required by the U.S. Department of Transportation,
Quad City leaders have determined and approved work on three major improvements
that span short, mid and long term efforts. Although work can occur concurrently
on all three projects, these time frames consider project readiness, feasibility
and funding. In the short term, the tolls have been removed from the Centennial
Bridge relieving traffic on the I-74 Bridge. Additionally
in the short term, Intelligent Transportation System technologies such as improved
signage and traveler incident advisories will be implemented in the I-74 corridor. In
the mid term, improvements to the I-74 corridor would be studied, designed and
constructed to address safety and capacity concerns. Federal funding for this
interstate corridor has been secured for study and design and approximately $70 million has been secured in SAFE TEA-LU. A long term crossing improvement is the construction
of a bridge in the East Moline/Bettendorf area. Although this bridge does not
significantly relieve traffic in the I-74 corridor, it does provide access across
the river where there is a nine-mile crossing gap. Funding for this project would
likely be from local sources and a transportation authority funding
concept is being considered.
Current I-74 Information The firm of CH2M Hill is conducting a preliminary engineering
study to improve the capacity of I-74 as one of the major crossing needs in the
Quad City area.
For more information about Please visit: I-74 Iowa-Illinois Corridor Study home page