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Illinois House passes legislation in support of Bison Bridge project

Illinois House members passed a bill Tuesday asking for a Bison Bridge structure to be included in I-80 bridge replacement plans.

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois — Illinois lawmakers on Tuesday, April 5 passed a bill asking Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Department of Transportation to include a wildlife crossing in Interstate 80 bridge replacement plans.

House Resolution 699, co-sponsored by Reps. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria), Martin Moylan (D-Des Plaines), Tony McCombie (R-Savanna), Daniel Swanson (R-Woodhull) and Norine Hammond (R-Macomb), expressed support for the Bison Bridge project.

The House Transportation Committee on March 21 voted unanimously in favor of the resolution to include the Bison Bridge project in I-80 plans.

The current bridge over the Mississippi River is 56 years old, and the Department of Transportation previously determined a new one was needed due to it being dangerously narrow and too small to support its daily traffic. Typically, the old bridge would be destroyed when a new one is built somewhere along the river.

RELATED: As IDOT searches for new I-80 bridge location, nearby towns consider the impacts

The proposed project includes repurposing one side of the bridge between LeClaire, Iowa, and Rapids City, Illinois, as a wildlife crossing and the other as a park-like setting for foot traffic. It will be entirely privately funded, with no additional cost to taxpayers, according to the Bison Bridge Foundation.

The Bison Bridge

The Bison Bridge is live! And now, we need your support to set in motion our plans to save the old I-80 Bridge and repurpose it into a National Park! Our goal is to turn the I-80 Bridge into the world's longest human-made wildlife crossing, to be enjoyed by locals, tourists...and bison! This one-of-a-kind structure can put the Quad Cities on the map, making a positive impact on tourism and population and recruiting and retaining workforce talent to the area. Chad Pregracke and our team have been working on this project for years - but now we need your help. We're looking to collect 50,000+ signatures showing support for the Bison Bridge. Are you a supporter? Please head to bisonbridge.org/support today! #bisonbridge #jointheherd #quadcities

Posted by Bison Bridge Foundation on Thursday, March 18, 2021

A petition created by the foundation has received nearly 40,000 signatures from those in favor of the wildlife crossing. Other supporters include the Quad Cities Chamber, Visit Quad Cities and the Quad Cities River Bandits, according to the foundation's website.

The next step in the I-80 bridge plans is a series of public input meetings hosted by the Illinois Department of Transportation. The meetings could come as early as May, IDOT Region 2 Engineer Masood Ahmad said in a statement.

“These meetings are our best hope of delivering the message that the Quad Cities overwhelmingly supports the Bison Bridge, as do our friends in the Illinois General Assembly,” Illinois transportation consultant and Bison Bridge Foundation member Matt Hughes said in a statement. “We are especially grateful to the members of the Illinois House of Representatives who have supported this once-in-a-lifetime project for the Quad Cities and the surrounding region. We anticipate an equally strong showing of support during IDOT’s public meetings.”

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