What is the I-80 Over the Mississippi River study?

Initiated by the Illinois Department of Transportation in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Transportation and under the jurisdiction of the Federal Highway Administration, I-80 Over the Mississippi River is an early stage study. The study brings communities together to examine environmental, community and economic factors tied to the area’s transportation network.

I keep seeing “PEL,” what does that mean?

PEL is a federal study process name that stands for Planning Environment Linkages. It is a collaborative approach to transportation decision-making. It brings together experts, community members and organizations to consider potential improvements to the area’s transportation network, and what the resulting impacts would be.

One benefit of the PEL study is its efficiency. When successfully completed, it results in a smooth decision-making process that encourages working relationships between local government, agencies and transportation departments to advance a project.

It also begins the comprehensive study that is required under the federal National Environmental Policy Act, allowing a project to smoothly transition into its next phase.

What are the study boundaries?

The I-80 Over the Mississippi River study area encompasses roughly 9 miles, from the I-88 and I-80 interchange in Illinois to just east of the Middle Road interchange in Bettendorf, Iowa – and includes the bridge connecting the two states over the Mississippi River.

What are the next steps?

In coming months, the project team will continue to identify and evaluate possible alternatives for transportation improvements within the study area. Those findings will be included in a final report, which is expected in late 2020. Completion of the report will then allow the project to enter a Preliminary Engineering & Environmental Studies phase, which is known as Phase I.

Why are you doing this?

The I-80 Bridge Over the Mississippi River was opened in 1966 and is one of three major interstate bridges in the Quad Cities. After repairs and rehabilitations over the years, the structure is reaching the end of its useful life. Its roadway features and traffic operations are outdated, and traffic congestion is increased by trucks climbing from the river and crashes on the bridge.

Those challenges create recurring issues with the bridge condition, which in turn fuels costly annual expenses for bridge maintenance. The configuration of the bridge is geometrically obsolete, and a widening is not possible.

What are potential improvements to be considered?

The PEL will determine a range of potential alternatives that will be further evaluated in the next phase of the project. The alternatives will consist of a wide spectrum of possibilities and combinations, beginning with the option of implementing regular safety and maintenance efforts that do not involve any reconstruction or replacement, which is represented by the No Build Alternative. Potential Build alternatives may include rehabilitation to address design deficiencies, adding lanes to I-80, and modifying interchanges.

How do I get involved?

Your input is critical to the success of this study. Please visit this website often to get the latest news and information regarding study progress. Let us know about your experiences, what you are seeing, and what you believe are the greatest strengths and challenges to transportation in the I-80 Over the Mississippi River region. Comments are always welcome; those received through May 6, 2020, will become part of the virtual public meeting record.

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