As a lifelong Quad Citizen – an area made up of the Illinois and Iowa bi-state region – I have had it engrained into me, like many other Quad Citizens, that our little corner of the universe is in fact the center of the universe where all things excellent have its origins. We didn’t just make up this delusion of grandeur. There are several examples of this excellence, such as being the home of industrialist John Deere, birth place and home to Sauk War Chief Black Hawk, the first railroad to cross the Mississippi River, the headquarters to the First Army, the only place in the world where the Mississippi River flows east to west, and last but not least, the stunning engineering marvel that is the Interstate 74 (I-74) Bridge over the Mississippi River.
The Quad Cities latest accomplishment, the I-74 Bridge, is truly a testament of the Quad Cities. It was a culmination of decades of planning, vision, bi-partisan advocacy, and perseverance to make this jewel of the Quad Cities a reality. The first study and Draft Environmental Impact Statement that kicked off the planning and construction phases of the project was approved October 30, 2003. Construction of the I-74 bridge did not start until 2017. The $1 billion complex, mega-project was built to accommodate increased capacity and structural improvements along a 7.8-mile stretch of I-74 in the Quad Cities. The I-74 Bridge is not only a physical bridge, but a symbolic bridge between the people of Illinois and Iowa living as one community.
As a testament to the hundreds of skilled union craftspeople and dedicated engineers that made this project come to life, the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) announced this spring that the I-74 Corridor over the Mississippi River was named the Grand Award winner at the Engineering Excellence Awards (EEA). The Engineering Excellence Awards are considered the “Academy Awards of the engineering industry.” The project will be nationally recognized at the EEA in June in Washington, D.C.
The awards for this spectacular piece of infrastructure does not end at the prestigious EEA. The I-74 Bridge was also awarded the #1 Bridge in 2022 by Roads & Bridges Magazine. However, probably the highest honor the pedestrian walk path on the bridge received was it being named “the coolest scooter ride in the world” by the 7-year-old and 9-year-old Waeyaert children.
From the Spring/Summer 2023 Issue of The Monitor.