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Fix the Funding Dilemma for Upstream Bridge
Friday March 14, @02:11PM, by Frank (Ferenc) Beiwel
Subject : Bridge Issues
Summary :

Unedited reprint of a Letter to the Editor published in the QC Times (with some omissions) on 2/11/03, and in the Leader (verbatim) on 2/14/03.

Text :

Letter to the Editor

The popular Serenity prayer talks about accepting what one cannot change. For my serenity I need to make this last ditch effort about saving the I-74 bridges.

In the Barb Ickes column of 1/9/03 (QC Times) there is an issue that deserves more coverage: the issue of "funding mechanism". It appears that the idea of an upstream bridge to relieve traffic on I-74 is an orphan since the IA and IL Departments of Transportation can work only with existing bridges. Never mind that a new upstream bridge would cost much less. Uncle Sam has deep pockets. Local officials are all supportive since the proposed I-74 design is a package deal, as it includes work at various interchanges (53rd St, 23rd St, etc.) unrelated to the bridge. As it is, it appears that the new bridge would have to be built with local funds, unless some state hwy, U S Hwy, or Interstate Hwy designation is attached to it.

How much effort was expended to cut red tape, to change the funding mechanism? It should be the job of the Bi-State Regional Commissioner or someone higher to resolve this funding dilemma, to look for federal money of the right color, to determine a pork barrel of adequate but not rip-off size, to lobby Congress. Many of us would hate to see losing two nice, sound bridges; suffering through inconveniences during the long construction period; loosing downtown businesses; etc., all the while wondering if there was a better way.

Some of us think that congestion on I-74 could be sufficiently relieved by removing tolls from the Centennial Bridge and building a new bridge upstream from I-74. If still necessary, further steps could include improving the ramps on the existing I-74 Bridge, metering traffic, rerouting Hwy 6 to the Centennial Bridge, etc.

Note that adding a bike crossing to an existing bridge should not be that difficult. Could we use the design for the viaduct at Arsenal Island? (By the way, that first I-74 Bridge had side walks, but then were later removed to widen the lanes.)

In closing, I quote my barber: "We need more bridges around here, not less!"

F. T. Beiwel, Davenport.

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