Though the I-74 Mississippi River Bridge between Iowa and Illinois is still three years from completion, people can now see what it will be like to actually drive across the future span.
The Iowa Department of Transportation and Iowa State University have collaborated to create a virtual reality video that not only shows what it will be like to drive over the bridge but also what’s been going on beneath the surface of the water to protect sensitive aquatic life.
The video uses 3D models by Alfred Benesch & Co. engineering consultant team and is being shown on virtual reality headsets provided to the public through May. Funding came from state and federal sources.
DOT and university officials hope the video will keep the public’s eyes on the prize as construction of the new bridge is not scheduled to be completed until 2021. That means a few more years of sitting in traffic jams on the current bridge.
Construction began in July on the $1.2 billion project to replace the current bridge, which is overcapacity and frequently requires repairs. The new bridge is designed to last 100 years, according to the Iowa DOT. It will connect Bettendorf, Iowa, with Moline, Illinois.
Work is currently occurring on the foundations for the bridge’s piers.
The project involves constructing two bridges, one headed toward Illinois and the other to Iowa. They are being built east of the current bridge and will have a true-arch design and 795-foot main span. The bridges will also provide pedestrian and bicycle access to 14-foot-wide paths. An elevator will be included on the Bettendorf side of the Illinois-bound bridge for walkers and bikers to get to the path. The path will also have a glass bottom at the center of the bridge for people to watch the water.
The bridge will be twice as wide as the current bridge, with four lanes in each direction.