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10 Facts About the I-74 Bridge You Probably Didn’t Know

Interstate 74 Bridge on Mississippi River - Photograph by Adria Black Art

 

There are many iconic landmarks in the Quad Cities.  But the I-74 bridge is the one that defines the Quad Cities area to me.  It showcases this area’s relationship and connection with the Mississippi River and how it has greatly affected the area through economic, cultural, and technological advances.  Whenever I am shooting photographs along the riverfront, I try to find a way to capture the I-74 bridge within some of the shots, as well.

 

Boat Marina - View of I-74 Bridge - Photograph by Adria Black Art
Boat Marina – View of I-74 Bridge – Photograph by Adria Black Art
Atizle almost always joins me in my photography sessions and she was super excited about this one, because we got up close and personal with the Mississippi River.  Check out the quick vlog that we did during this shoot below!

 

 

10 Facts You May Not Know About the I-74 Bridge

During my research on the history of the I-74 Bridge, I found a fabulous article from the Iowa Department of Transportation that details the entire history of the I-74 Bridge.  This bridge has an 82-year-old history and will not be around much longer, as the bridge is not up to the latest Interstate standards and cannot keep up with the current daily crossing capacity of the vehicles that use it on a regular basis.

 

Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge (Winter 2017) - Photograph by Adria Black Art
Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge (Winter 2017) – Photograph by Adria Black Art

#1. The I-74 Bridge is actually the Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge

The I-74 bridge is officially known as the Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge, although it is often called the Twin Bridges or the I-74 Bridge.  It was originally dedicated in November, 1935, in the memory of Iowa’s and Illinois’ World War 1 Veterans.  When the second span of the bridge was built (1959), the bridge was rededicated to local veterans of both World Wars.   The Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge was finally dedicated to include local area veterans from the World Wars and those who served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars when it was opened to Interstate 74 traffic (1970s).

#2. The I-74 Bridge is a Pair of Suspension Bridges

The Twin Bridges are actually a pair of suspension style bridges that carry Interstate 74 across the Mississippi River and connect Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline, Illinois.  These bridges display classic details that are shared with many of the suspension bridges associated with their designer and engineer, Ralph Modjeski, who also designed the Delaware River Bridge (later renamed to the Ben Franklin Bridge).

Interstate 74 Bridge by Adria Black Art
Crossing the Interstate 74 bridge headed towards Illinois in the Quad Cities (Davenport, Iowa to Moline, Illinois). Photograph by Adria Black Art

#3. Ralph Modjeski designed the I-74 Bridge

The Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge was designed by the engineer, Ralph Modjeski, who was born in Poland in 1861.  His first commission was in 1893 when he designed a bridge that would combine a railroad and highway bridge.  This bridge is also in the Quad Cities area (The Government Bridge) in Rock Island, Illinois.  His last project was the design of the second span of the Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge.  So Modjeski started and ended his career in the Quad Cities area.

#4. The I-74 Bridge Began as a Toll Bridge

The first span of the I-74 Bridge opened as a toll bridge in 1935.  Traffic studies indicated that creating a toll bridge between Moline, Illinois, and Bettendorf, Iowa would effectively pay for itself.  The tolls remained in place until the bridge came into the Interstate System in the 1970’s.  The last toll was taken on December 31, 1969.  The toll rates were 15 cents for cars, 5 cents for pedestrians, and trucks varied based on size and weight.

Interstate 74 Bridge on Mississippi River - Photograph by Adria Black Art
Interstate 74 Bridge on Mississippi River – Photograph by Adria Black Art

#5. The I-74 Bridge has a Capacity of 48,000 Vehicles

The Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge was built for a daily crossing of 48,000 vehicles.  While the daily average is 80,000 vehicles according to a letter sent to the Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, in December of 2015 by Cheri Bustos, a Congress Member for the 17th District of Illinois.

#6.  The I-74 Bridge was one of the Public Works Administration’s Projects in the Quad Cities during the Great Depression

The I-74 Bridge was original funded by the Public Works Administration (PWA).  The PWA was created and directed by Harold L. Ickes under the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933.  The goal of this project was to focus on major infrastructure and other large-scale projects, such as building dams, bridges, irrigation systems, in order to stimulate the economy and provide permanent improvements for the United States’ Citizens.  The first span of the I-74 Bridge cost $1.45 million, which was paid back to the US government through the tolls that were collected.

Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge - Close Up - Photograph by Adria Black Art
Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge – Close Up – Photograph by Adria Black Art

#7.  The Twin Bridges are Almost Identical

Despite the two spans of the Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge being built at different times (1935 and 1959), the two spans are virtually identical.  Modjeski’s original design plans for the first span were used, with slight modifications, when the second span needed built to accommodate the increased traffic.

#8.  The I-74 Bridge had to Undergo Significant Changes to Join with the Interstate

When the Twin Bridges were brought into the Interstate in the 1970’s, a number of changes had to be made to the original designs so that it fit current Interstate standards.  Some of these changes were the removal of sidewalks, replacement of railings that had been along the sidewalks, removable of the tollbooth, construction of new on-and-off ramps on both sides of the river, and no longer allowing pedestrians across the bridge.

Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge - In the Distance - Photograph by Adria Black Art
Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge – In the Distance – Photograph by Adria Black Art

#9.  The I-74 Bridge was the Third Way Across the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities

Before 1935, when the first span of the Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge was built, the only way to travel between Moline, Illinois and Bettendorf, Iowa was by ferry or (after 1896) by crossing the Government Bridge between Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa.

#10.  The I-74 Quickly Became an Iconic Landmark

The Twin Bridges quickly became an icon for the Quad Cities after their construction.  Images of the bridges immediately appeared in local business advertising, as well as on Quad Cities postcards.  The Twin Bridges continues to be an iconic landmark of the Quad Cities area even today!

We also captured a few shots of the Mississippi riverfront and the stairs to the marine.
Mississippi Riverfront - Bettendorf, Iowa - Winter 2017 - Photograph by Adria Black Art
Mississippi Riverfront – Bettendorf, Iowa – Winter 2017 – Photograph by Adria Black Art
Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge - Looking Towards Moline - Photograph by Adria Black Art
Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge – Looking Towards Moline – Photograph by Adria Black Art
Mississippi Riverfront - Boat Marina - Photograph by Adria Black Art
Mississippi Riverfront – Boat Marina – Photograph by Adria Black Art

Stairway to the Sky - Color - Photograph by Adria Black Art
Stairway to the Sky – Color – Photograph by Adria Black Art
Stairway to the Sky - Black and White - Photograph by Adria Black Art
Stairway to the Sky – Black and White – Photograph by Adria Black Art

 

Did you learn any new facts about the Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge?  Tell me in the comments below!  All of these prints are available for purchase at Society 6, simply click on any of the photos that you love and it will take you directly to purchasing options.

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