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Out with the old, thanks to the new: Crews demolish final Illinois land span of old I-74 bridge

The beginning of one local company was marked by the end of a QC icon, as a new Quad Cities crane service brought down the final Illinois section of the old bridge.

MOLINE, Ill. — What goes up must eventually come down. 

On Thursday, June 9, crews worked to take down the final Illinois land span of the old I-74 bridge. Six giant beams each had to be torched, cut and lifted away from the bridge, marking a new beginning for one local company and the end of an era for a Quad Cities icon. 

Workers from QC Crane worked to haul each of the 20,000-pound beams down from their sky-high perch — an enormous yet delicate balancing act. 

"The guys up there will torch holes through (the beams). They determined rigging points where they'll put rigging through there and we'll hook on to it with the crane," said Joe Wood, crane operator and owner of QC Crane. 

It's a case of going out with the old, thanks to something new. 

QC Crane just opened in 2021 after decades of woodworking for other contractors across the area. Scoring the old bridge demolition came at a perfect time as well: just one week after the company purchased the heavy-duty crane used in the land span's demolition. The 240-ton machine is the biggest Wood owns. 

"I've been over this bridge a million times growing up here. I didn't think I'd ever be the one taking down the last beams, so that's pretty neat to do," Wood said. "A new local company and all local guys going the work. It's been a neat project, seeing it from beginning to end." 

Posted by WQAD Shelby Kluver on Thursday, June 9, 2022

After standing as a Mississippi River fixture for more than six decades, the land span was taken down in just one day. As each enormous beam was hauled to the ground, it was cut up and hauled away to be melted down. 

"And who knows, they might be a bridge beam somewhere else in the future," Wood laughed. "We're bringing them down and then we'll come tear the piers down and you'll never know the bridge was here." 

The work also drew a few onlookers, including Wood's own mother, Brenda. 

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," she said. "(The bridge) has been around my entire life. To see it demolished is just kind of a bittersweet thing." 

Crews took down everything up until the main deck of the bridge, right over the water's edge. Eventually, that section of the bridge will also be demolished. 

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