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Mississippi Bridge Timeline

1912: Moline Bettendorf Bridge Co., a private corporation, first proposes a bridge over the Mississippi River between the two cities. The company fails to raise the money needed.

1927: Civic leaders on both sides of the river endeavor to renew the possibility of a Moline-Bettendorf bridge. Their plan is thwarted in the 1929 stock-market crash.

May 19, 1931: Davenport Mayor George Tank establishes the Davenport Bridge Commission to build the bridge, even though no part would touch that city.

June 1934: With help from the Works Progress Administration, construction begins on the nearly $1.5 million bridge. (The equivalent of about $20.7 million today)

Nov. 18, 1935: The Illinois-Iowa Memorial Bridge, honoring veterans of World War I, is dedicated. It was constructed to handle about 8,000 vehicles each day. This is today's Iowa-bound portion of the I-74 bridge.

1951: Davenport leaders begin considering a second bridge. In the coming years, Bettendorf opposes the location of the new bridge because it would wipe out dozens of historic buildings and city hall. Bettendorf is eventually convinced to relent.

1958: Construction begins on a second span, west of the first bridge, at a cost of $8.1 million. (Almost $53 million by today's costs.)

November 1959: Traffic is switched to the now open new bridge while the older one is closed for repairs.

Jan. 20, 1960: The twin spans of the Illinois-Iowa Memorial Bridge are officially opened and dedicated.

1966: Interstate 80 bridge opens in LeClaire, diverting some traffic from Memorial Bridge.

1968: About 10 times as many vehicles are crossing Memorial Bridge as the year the single span first opened.

Jan. 1, 1970: Memorial Bridge goes toll free.

1971: Work begins to connect the new interstate, 74, to the bridges and the Davenport City Council dissolves the city bridge commission.

Nov. 26, 1974: The I-74 bridge opens to traffic in both directions, with the eastern span carrying vehicles toward Iowa and the newer, western span carrying vehicles to Illinois from Iowa.

Dec. 10, 1975: I-74 is completed through Moline.

1982: Illinois Department of Transportation repair crews lift the I-74 bridge from 7th Avenue in Moline to the river -- without stopping traffic -- to replace bridge bearings that slipped and caused a slight pavement gap.

1996 to 1998: Bi-State Regional Planning Commission, along with the Illinois and Iowa transportation departments, studies the Mississippi River crossings in the Quad-Cities.

2000: About 73,900 vehicles travel each day on the I-74 Mississippi bridge, one of the highest average daily traffic counts in Iowa.

2001 to 2004: CH2M Hill, a transportation consultant from Chicago, studies the seven-mile I-74 corridor between Avenue of the Cities in Moline and 53rd Street in Bettendorf and recommends changes to improve traffic flow and safety.

Looking to the future ...

2005 to 2007: The Illinois and Iowa departments of transportation finalize their report on the environmental impacts of changes to the I-74 corridor.

Late 2005 or early 2006: Recommendation on the type of bridge for the new I-74 Mississippi crossing will be shared with the public.

2007: The Federal Highway Administration issues its decision on the proposed project. Once the agency approves the project, construction of the new bridge would still be a long way off in the future. The project must receive funding from Congress, which can take seven to 10 years. During that time, the state transportation departments would work on design details and acquire properties for the right-of-way as funding is available.

2010: Likely the earliest year construction could begin on I-74 improvements. Estimates so far place the cost around $600 million.

Sources: Archives of The Rock Island Argus/The Dispatch, Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator

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