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Channel Cat sets sail on new season this weekend

It's the first time riders will be able to see the finished billion-dollar I-74 bridge. It's the last time riders can get up close to the old, green I-74 bridge.

MOLINE, Ill. — The Channel Cat Water Taxi is a staple of the Quad Cities, and they are getting ready to set sail on another season. Opening Friday, May 27, the unique way to travel leisurely around the Quad Cities will give riders something to see for the first time and something to see for the last time.

"It's a great way for families to get out and enjoy the river," Jennifer Hirsch with QC MetroLINK said. "Enjoy the beautiful scenery here in the Quad Cities." 

In recent years, passengers have seen the skyline of the Quad Cities change. The Channel Cat has taken riders through every phase of construction of the new Interstate 74 Mississippi River Bridge. 

This year's Channel Cat season is unique because it will be the first time riders will see the completed billion-dollar bridge, and the last time riders will get an up-close look at the old, green I-74 bridge, which is set to be demolished in late 2022.

The Channel Cat has a fleet of three fairies that meet riders at one of four docks every 15 minutes or so.

Credit: MetroLINK
Channel Cat Routes

"We have a dock at Riverbend Commons in Moline, across from Western Illinois University. There's a dock at the Isle of Capri Casino in Bettendorf, a dock at the Village of East Davenport and our fourth dock is at the John Deere Commons in Moline," said Hirsch said. 

The dock at John Deere Commons will be closed for the first few weeks of the Channel Cat season as crews finish construction. 

"We have been really fortunate over the past couple of years to receive funding from the Federal Transit Administration," Hirsch said. 

That funding is paying for the upgrades at the John Deere Commons dock. Next, that same funding will pay for the reconstruction of the Village of East Davenport dock, then the final project will be at the Bend of the Quad Cities in East Moline. They will be adding a brand new dock. Hirsch said she suspects construction will begin on that in 2023.

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“The Quad-Cities MetroLINK Channel Cat is a fun and unique way for folks in our community to cross the Mississippi River,” Congresswoman Cheri Bustos said. “I’m thrilled to join Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth to announce more than $1.8 million in infrastructure funding to construct a brand-new terminal in East Moline. This project will create local jobs and boost development right here in the Quad Cities – all while improving our water taxi system.”

But for now, riders can enjoy the available docks and the sites of the Quad Cities. It costs $8 for adults to ride, and $4 for children. Riders can bring strollers and bicycles. 

You can purchase a ticket in two ways. You can pay cash, but the preferred method is by downloading the mobile app and paying that way which streamlines the boarding process. You can download the Channel Cat Ticketing App Here. Your ticket is good for the entire day, so if you purchase a ticket in the morning, you can ride with that ticket all day.

The Channel Cat is open seven days a week through Labor Day, and then, it drops to weekends only through October, weather permitting.

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