Traffic patterns near the I-74 bridge in Illinois and Iowa will change once again this spring as work continues on the bridge and highways carrying traffic from one state to the other. The Iowa DOT provided a comprehensive review of progress to-date and plans for the future to the Bi-State Regional Commission and its members at the group’s December 18th meeting.
The City of Riverdale is a member of the Bi-State Regional Commission.
Progress continues on both sides of the river. In Illinois, construction is headed into its third year with work more than half-way done. Over $147 million has been spent to-date diverting roads, building new bridges and ramps to the new bridge structures.
In Iowa, work in downtown Bettendorf has been underway a bit longer and $31 million of the budgeted $33 million has been spent on the “Westbound Viaduct” portion of the project. Other paving and related work north of Mississippi Blvd started in the spring of last year and appears to be nearing the half-way point. Work is expected to begin on the “Eastbound Viaduct” portion of the project this coming summer (a contractor should be selected in June/July).
The biggest part of the entire project is the construction of the new bridge spans and destruction/dismantling of the old spans. The construction part of the project is estimated to cost somewhere around $342 million. Of that, more than $256 million has already been paid. The destruction/dismantling project is scheduled for bidding this spring with selection of a contractor set for the first part of 2020. The estimated cost for removal of the old bridge is expected to run around $21 million.
Traffic patterns are expected to change this spring
Part of the report made by DOT included an explanation of projected traffic pattern changes in Bettendorf and Moline due to the progress of the construction. Current plans for Iowa and Illinois-bound drivers are as follows:
If you’re headed south on I-74 from north of Middle Road, make note of the fact you will not be able to exit once you pass the Middle Road exit until you get to Moline. So if you need to go to downtown Bettendorf, you should exit at Middle Road, head east to Kimberly and then proceed down Kimberly Road to downtown Bettendorf (Grant Street/US 67 Access).
If you’re headed south on I-74 to Illinois, be prepared to shift from two lanes of southbound traffic to one lane of shared north/south traffic on the northbound side of the road once you pass Middle Road. Once you pass over the crest of the hill and are headed downhill to the river, you’ll be able to shift back to the left-hand lanes before merging with on-coming traffic from the Grant Street and State Street on-ramps in downtown Bettendorf.
If you’re coming into Iowa from Illinois, you’ll still need to take the first exit off the bridge which will bring you to Grant Street/US-67. From there you can head to Davenport (left) or Bettendorf and Riverdale (right).
If you want to continue north on I-74, you’ll need to proceed through the Grant Street/US-67 intersection and get back on the 14th street on-ramp. This traffic pattern is currently in place.
The initial plan for handling the I-74 traffic in Moline attempted to keep all the traffic on or near the existing highway which caused some confusion for people who were trying to get to downtown Moline rather than across the river (see original plan illustration).
Iowa-bound traffic will separate from downtown-bound traffic at the Avenue of the Cities on-ramp with Iowa-bound traffic getting on I-74 and heading to the end of the re-constructed highway, just past River Drive. After making a U-turn onto the exit ramp of the new bridge, drivers will need make a right to get back on the on-ramp to the current bridge and head north into Iowa.
For downtown-bound traffic, they can either get onto 19th Street from the intersection of I-74 and Avenue of the Cities or, if they’re already on I-74, they can take the 7th Avenue exit to downtown. The 7th Avenue exit will require drivers to make a right onto 7th and then two blocks later, a left onto 23rd Street. From there, drivers can chose to take 4th Avenue or River Drive into downtown Moline.
Illinois-bound drivers coming across the bridge from Iowa can take the River Drive exit which loops under I-74 and ends at a stop light on River Drive. From there, they can turn left (to gain downtown access) or right (to head towards East Moline).
For drivers who want to continue into Illinois, they must take the 7th Avenue exit once they cross the river and then wind through two lanes of traffic to get onto 19th Street and head south. That street eventually crosses under I-74 a second time and brings drivers to the west side of the I-74/Avenue of the Cities interchange. From there, drivers can head straight to get back on I-74 or make a left or right into Moline.
The result of all these changes is projected to be an additional 2-3 minutes of commute time. But the reduction in traffic will allow the road projects on the Moline side to be completed on time (avoiding nearly $7 million in cost overruns due to delays) and no further route alterations made until the Iowa-bound bridge is complete (reducing confusion).