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As new bridge opens, old I-74 Bridge coming to an end

Drivers in Bettendorf took one of their last passes Thursday over the old I-74 Bridge before the span closes for good.

BETTENDORF, Iowa — As the new Interstate 74 Bridge opens to traffic, it also means the end of the old bridge.

Bridges are a part of everyday life in the Quad Cities. The old I-74 bridge has been a fixture in the community since the first span opened in the 1930s, and the second span opened in 1960.

"A lot of people use that bridge everyday," said Howard Gripp.

Gripp is one of those drivers that consistently used the bridge.

"(I've) used it every day since 1988," Gripp said.

The old bridge, though, is causing a longer commute for Gripp after he leaves work in Davenport.

"This gets me off at River Drive, and I need to go all the way up to the Avenue of the Cities," Gripp said.

RELATED: Life-long Quad Cities residents take first steps on new I-74 Bridge

But after taking that same bridge for more than 30 years, Gripp is ready for a change.

"The traffic delays," Gripp said of what he'll remember about the old bridge. "I'm looking forward to the new bridges for that reason."

It is a similar reason for Phillip Hull, who lives in East Moline.

"Shuttling gravel back and forth, you know, running the dump trailer over the bridge, it makes you nervous with the truck," Hull said. "It's pretty tight."

Hull has been using the old bridge every day since he started a job four years ago in Muscatine.

"I think it's a neat looking bridge," Hull said. "I hate to see 'em go, but yeah, we need the new one."

Taking the old bridge into Illinois was part of Joseph Gomez's routine, too.

"I know that every time we cross the bridge my children freak out, so I'm going to remember that," Gomez said.

The Iowa and Illinois Departments of Transportation are thrilled to announce that the new Illinois-bound bridge is...

Posted by I-74 River Bridge on Thursday, December 2, 2021

But when the bridge closes for good in the coming days, it will be a welcome sign for these three drivers.

"I will celebrate with everybody else that celebrates about it being done," Gripp said.

"Just hang a right, 55 miles an hour, you're over the bridge, never a backup, it's great," Hull said.

Thousands of cars have used this bridge every day.

"It was a good bridge in its day but it's long overdue," Gripp said.

The Quad Cities is closing the chapter on this span of history, making way for even more. The old bridge will close permanently with the opening of a new era, according to bridge project leaders.

Project leaders said the old bridge will be demolished after contractors are selected in the spring time.

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