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IOWA DOT: Iowa-bound I-74 in Quad-Cities should be open within six months

IOWA DOT: Iowa-bound I-74 in Quad-Cities should be open within six months

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Within the next six months, motorists should be able to drive across the new Iowa-bound Interstate 74 bridge.

The new four-lane bridge will be as wide as the current twin spans combined.

The fourth of six final sections of pre-built floor deck was raised Thursday. The remaining two sections will complete the driving surface between the arch legs. After that, parts of the arch must be painted and roadway lights installed.

Danielle Alvarez, project manager for the Iowa Department of Transportation, or DOT, said the westbound bridge is on track to be finished by the end of the year.

"Remaining lighting, specifically most aesthetic lighting, will be completed after Iowa-bound is open to traffic," Alvarez said Thursday. "We do not want to hold up opening the Iowa-bound bridge to traffic, so we are focusing on work that is necessary for providing a safe structure for motorists."

The project is a year behind schedule, attributable to a harsh 2018-19 winter, massive flooding in 2019 and challenges with the complicated basket-handle arch design, which produced disputes between the DOT and contractor Lunda Construction.

As the westbound span is completed, Lunda is getting close, Alvarez said, to setting the first arch sections for the Illinois-bound bridge.

"Our goal is to open Iowa-bound to traffic this year and Illinois-bound next year," she said. "All Illinois-bound foundations are complete, and decking is taking place. We have recently installed the anchor rods to receive the first sections of the arch and have several sections on site that we will begin installing yet this summer."

Demolition of the existing spans is expected in 2022.

Meanwhile, Alvarez said, transportation officials continue to work with Lunda on requests for payment beyond the $322 million bridge contract. So far, the Wisconsin-based bridge builder has been paid an additional $6.2 million, she said, of up to $16 million in approved contract modifications.

"It’s not unusual for contractors to submit proposed changes (contract modifications)," she said. "Lunda has submitted additional proposals, which were reviewed by the Iowa DOT to determine if the proposed changes meet the conditions required for the project.

"The DOT has approved additional contract mods since (the Quad-City Times') last report, the largest being the approval of up to $6 million for additional labor efforts related specifically to the Iowa-bound deck to help ensure completion of the Iowa-bound bridge this year, thereby relieving traffic impacts in the Quad Cities.

"Payments for this contract mod are contingent upon contractor performance and DOT review. The entire corridor projects costs continue to remain under the budget developed by the Iowa and Illinois DOTs."

The total cost of the bridge and its related interstate expansions and other improvements is about $1.2 billion.

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