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A National Park Could Replace the I-80 Bridge in the Quad Cities

Aerial view of the I-80 bridge.
Aerial view of the I-80 bridge.
Aerial view of the I-80 bridge.
Aerial view of the I-80 bridge.

The Interstate 80 bridge that connects the Illinois and Iowa Quad Cities is due to be replaced. Local environmental activists have talked with the Illinois Department of Transportation to turn the bridge into a National Park.  

Last year, the Illinois DOT began preliminary planning to build a new bridge between LeClaire, Iowa and Rapids City, Illinois. 

If a new one is built, Quad Cities environmentalist Chad Pregracke has proposed repurposing the old bridge. On Thursday night, Pregracke unveiled the plan for Bison Bridge State Park. That plan includes converting the eastbound lanes into a walking and biking path and the westbound lanes into a land bridge for wildlife.

“I want to put a small herd of bison in the westbound lane. The bison could literally eat their way over to Iowa, and then eat their way back over to Illinois.” Pregracke says the landmark would put the Quad Cities on the map and help revive its dwindling population. 

The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce and Visit Quad Cities are among early supporters of the project. 

Copyright 2021 WVIK, Quad Cities NPR

Marianna Bacallao is WVIK Quad Cities NPR's 2020-2021 Fellowship Host/Reporter. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism and served as Editor-in-Chief for the student newspaper, The Cluster. After interning with Georgia Public Broadcasting in 2018, she was selected as a 2019 John M. Couric Fellowship Reporter at GPB, where she contributed to the statewide newscast. She was a spring 2020 intern, helping produce GPB's daily news talk show, Political Rewind. She also had the pleasure of interning with The Macon Telegraph and CBS affiliate, 13WMAZ. Georgia College Press Association awarded her first place in Sports Photography and Best Review, and she ranked third in the state for Best Photo Essay twice.