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Coverage: I-74 Corridor Project Meeting 07/10/02
Thursday July 11, @01:41PM, by Stephanie Smith
Subject : Bridge Issues
Summary :

Maps, site selections and IDOT answers.

Text :

I attended the informational meeting of the I-74 Corridor Project held at the Mark of the Quad Cities. The meeting was supposedly to run from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Here is what the format was, so that others may attend at their leisure tonight at the Paul Norton School in Bettendorf.

You sign in with your name, address and if you desire to have information mailed to you. Then you are told to go to a particular meeting room. This room has a video that runs for approximately 17 minutes. The video is scheduled to run every 20 minutes thru 6:40 p.m. Then you are free to go to another room where you may view the existing bridge route maps and the proposed “New” Bridge Maps.

The video interviews the Bettendorf Police Chief, who states that there are OVER 200 accidents per year on the existing bridge spans. He further stated that the “NEW” Bridge is the ONLY REAL answer.

Then they interviewed Richard Anderson of Renew Moline. He also is in favor of the “NEW” ideas.

The video showed that widening either span would shut the Interstate down in both directions for YEARS. That this would put an undo stress on the balance of the bridges in the area.

The style of bridge was discussed in the video and until such time as the plans are finalized the exact style (Cable-Stayed, Truss, Tied Arch or Suspension), The proposal would tear down the newer of the two spans and keep the Memorial Bridge that could be listed on the National Registry of Historical Structures. This span could then become a bike and pedestrian bridge.

They would also like to implement Park and Ride lots at the 23rd Avenue and 53rd Street areas to alleviate traffic problems.

Supposedly the Commission and the Engineering firm are taking into consideration easing of transportation problems, the environment of the area to be affected, Socio-economic impact of the area and the overall cost of the project.

They are stating that the alternative has not been totally refined as yet. That this will take until approximately 2004. Then the Right of Way begins acquisitions and this will probably take until 2008 – 2010. At that point construction can begin.

We were reminded in the video that you may look for update on the web at: www.i74corridor.org. Or contact Cathy Cutler in Cedar Rapids, IA with the IDOT @ 800/866-4368. The video ended and you were excused to view the maps and talk with the engineers and IDOT and the two Mayors.

What did the maps show?

The “E” alignment, which seems to be preferred by the engineering firm will take out, level, destroy the existing KONE manufacturing site. This too, is a landmark of the Quad Cities that should be on somebody’s register not to destroy. According to my discussion with Mayor Leach of Moline. It is NO Problem to tear down the Kone buildings for Progress. He stated, the building is too big right now and that the elevator-testing tower is not needed.*

I then spoke with one of the engineers from CH2MHILL, the firm handling the project. She said that I was misinterpreting the maps. I stated that the maps showed the areas in red are potential building displacements and/or proposed retaining walls correct? She said yes, I said then how could you tell me that State Street and Grant Street businesses will NOT be affected? Her answer was to look at me and another concerned citizen and walk away from us both.

The small maps that we received from IDOT do NOT show the area to the WEST of 11th Street. The “BIG” maps show that the area of River Drive that becomes State Street will be re-routed to the “NEW 2-way Grant Street”.

The orange area of the maps are showing some streets to become what will be know as “Arterial Streets” and local roads.

Route 67 will become a “local pattern” what ever that is supposed to mean.

The Illinois side is going to be almost as bad. Their proposal is to widen both directions of I-74 to 3 lanes. Their plan is to widen to the inside and place a 6-foot or higher retaining wall between the existing roads. Then place large retaining walls 6 feet or higher on the outer edges of the roads. The 23rd Avenue Bridge to be widened by 2 more lanes and add 2 more lanes for the on-off ramps at that sight and probably replacing the current overpass bridge structure to obtain this. The old Stardust, now Super 8 will have a LARGE wall placed on it’s property to make certain that it goes from ground level to 6 or more feet higher that the highway at that point.

Businesses like Trimble Funeral Home and Staack’s Florist will be taken for the new approach and off ramp areas along with many many more business in the area.

The engineering firm people and the IDOT people state that people and companies that will be displaced will be given fair market value for their property. When asked by one of the Illinois business owners is that the price he would have received 2 years ago or what his property is now appraised at because he is on the chopping block? The answer was that he would be offered what it would be worth at the time of the offer by the Acquisition team. He used some profanities and walked away saying that 2 years ago his property was worth twice what it is today and that by acquisition time there won’t be enough left to pay off the mortgage.

After speaking with another of the engineers, I discussed the 1977 alternative, the fact that 25 years ago this same project was discussed and at that time the cost was prohibitive. That while the other area did not currently attach itself to I-74 that it could in the future and that the current I-74 Corridor become a Business I-74 that would allow less truck traffic and therefore relieve the current 74 spans of the heavy traffic and leaving the I-74 bridges in tact and usable. I was told that I didn’t understand that the bridges especially the Memorial Span did not meet Federal standards of the Interstate System. I told him that there was no such thing as the Interstate System when the original span was constructed. That the Interstate System did not begin until President Eisenhower’s Administration in the 1950’s. He once again stated that I didn’t understand and walked away.

Author’s personal notes:

Remember: That the proposed cost for this new construction is based upon 2002 prices. If construction does not begin until 2010 what will the price be? How many projects at the magnitude of this one come in at projected price? (We all know that even when building a home the cost starts out at say $ 200.000.00, by the time they add the extra windows and a sky light or two, a concrete driveway, a deck, the pool, the spa possibly a gazebo and don’t forget the landscaping, appliances now you are up to $ 300,000.00 and you still need furniture). In the year 2010 what will $ 641 million dollars compute to? Possibly $ 1 Billion dollars or more? Then this bridge will not be constructed overnight. Take into consideration what the bridges in Alton and Quincy cost plus the number of years it took to construct them. We are now talking that this project will take until 2030 or later to finish. Will $ 1 Billion dollars be enough or will that price double? Who will pay for this the Federal Government? Or will we be assessed on part on our Federal taxes and will the gas tax raise even higher to cover the balance?

*This is the author of this report’s personal opinion on her discussion with Mayor Leach. He is out of touch with the community and the REAL needs of the area. He claims that Kone will move their facility to 19th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues and that it will be more efficient for them. My husband’s family began working for the old Montgomery Elevator Company in the late 19 teens when it first began. I remember when the Son of the original owner came out to my father-in-laws home and begged him to sell his stock to prevent a buy out. He sold back his stock and prayed that the company would not be sold. Thank God it was not sold until several years after his death. The Kone Company has no long-term ties to this area. They have manufacturing sites all over the world. Does Mayor Leach think that just because he has another area to offer to Kone that they will take it? That company is in it for money not for the community. If they are displaced, I personally feel that they will move south or to a foreign company where they can obtain cheap non-union labor. Apparently Mr. Leach has forgotten what happened to this area back in the early 1980’s when the farm implement industry took a nosedive. The Quad Cities cannot be forced to endure a similar situation again.

After speaking with Mr. Leach and three of the engineering firm people along with 2 persons from IDOT, I left the meeting. While I was not happy about what took place, I realized that there are many “little people” the citizen’s, taxpayers of this area that also do NOT want this to take place. The only politician that is on the side of the average small business owner and citizen is Maggie Tinsman. She was very eloquent in her talk with WHBF reporters, it is too bad that they did not include all of what she had to say on the subject. I too, was interviewed by the media and they also cut out the main part of what I had to say concerning this project.

Mayor Hutchinson, I believe is now beginning to realize that possibly her personal support of the project is not what her citizens want. But then she is leaving Bettendorf City government to go further in the political arena. Or will she? She really only desired to speak to those persons who reside on the Iowa side of the river and could possibly vote for her in November. Other persons were given very short answers as she searched past them into the room for more of her supporters.

As the author of this report, I must say that attending these meetings has opened my eyes to the boldness of civic leaders and their boldness in telling a concerned citizen of the Greater Quad City Area that if they do not live in either Moline or Bettendorf that they have no right to make any comments. That being an employee of a firm in the affected area does not count for anything. Excuse me, but if you become unemployed because the company you work for was put out of business by this construction don’t you have rights to voice an opinion? I thought that was in the Constitution listed as the Freedom of Speech. Maybe I was taught a different Constitution than the one the politicians have.

As the author of the April 24th report, I continue to state that the Business owners and/or their employees need to have a united front and possibly obtain some support from our Illinois counterparts that will be adversely affected. They say you cannot fight City Hall, however, I believe that YOU CAN fight for what is right. Women fought for over 100 years to be allowed the right to vote and they won. When this area is able to support a Bi-State St. Patrick’s Day Parade, a Bi-State Marathon Race, then why cannot we support a Bi-State LEAVE OUR BRIDGE SPANS ALONE project?

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Quote of Note
"The Bridge is structurally sound."
- Fred Dean, IDOT Planner
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