For over a decade, Chad Pregracke has waited for the opportunity to repurpose the I-80 bridge for locals and visitors to experience the beauty of the Mississippi River and the Quad Cities. As the moment draws near for the Department of Transportation to make a decision about the existing bridge, Chad and his team at the Bison Bridge Foundation are building a grassroots movement to save the structure and turn it into a unique and lasting attraction.
The State of Illinois Department of Transportation is responsible for the preliminary study, design, and construction of a new crossing over the Mississippi River at I-80 in the Quad Cities. Oversight is provided by the United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highways Administration and the Iowa Department of Transportation. Our role at the Bison Bridge Foundation is to convince these agencies to build an entirely new structure at a location that allows for the existing bridge to remain in place and be repurposed into what we envision as the Bison Bridge. We need your support - your signatures - to demonstrate public opinion that the Bison Bridge project is a worthwhile investment. Phase I engineering is now underway in Winter 2021, and it is this phase in which our opportunity lies to get our project considered for approval by the State of Illinois and the Federal Highways Administration.
Phase II engineering will include plans for demolition of the existing bridge and plans for constructing the new one. The Bison Bridge Foundation hopes to change the narrative to include repurposing the existing bridge rather than demolishing it. Your support is critical in 2021 as the Departments of Transportation make decisions about how to move forward with the existing bridge and the new bridge. We expect construction to begin in approximately 2026 following the completion of Phase I and Phase II engineering and design work.
Our long term vision is to turn the Bison Bridge and the acreage on either side of the Mississippi River adjacent to the bridge into a new National Park. Visitors will have the chance to learn about the history of the prairie, native wildlife, and the historical significance of the Mississippi River. With over 42,000 cars a day traveling over the Mississippi on I-80, the Bison Bridge will attract locals and visitors alike for the chance to experience all the river and the region have to offer.