Contractor Warns I-74 Bridge ‘Not Buildable’

The lead contractor for a Mississippi River bridge is involved in a now-public feud with the state of Iowa over whether the bridge is buildable.

The I-74 bridge is meant to replace a bridge on the same location connecting Moline, Ill, and Bettendorf, Iowa.  Known as the Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge, the bridge is a pair of suspension bridges located near the geographic center of the Quad Cities.

The original bridge was designed by engineer Ralph Modjeski. The first span opened in 1935 as a toll bridge. In 1961, an identical twin span, built from the same blueprint, opened to facilitate increased traffic demands. The twin spans were merged with Interstate 74 in 1975.

The new bridge was designed by a team from two firms: Pennsylvania-based Modjeski & Masters, the firm that designed the original bridge; and Chicago-based Alfred Benesch & Company.

After Lunda Construction, the lead contractor on the new bridge, missed deadlines for completing sections of arches, it began criticizing the basket-handle arch design, saying the tolerances in the design wouldn’t work. Iowa disagrees and is standing by the designers.

None of the parties would comment in response to media requests.

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