Plans to transform ageing Mississippi River bridge into world’s longest wildlife crossing - International Burch University
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Plans to transform ageing Mississippi River bridge into world’s longest wildlife crossing

A 1.1km bridge between Iowa and Illinois over the USA’s most famous river could be transformed into the world’s longest wildlife crossing under radical plans to prevent it from demolition.

The 55-year-old Interstate-80 bridge currently serves 42,000 motorists every day. However it is due to be torn down and replaced due to its deteriorating condition.

However, conservationist Chad Pregracke has tabled a radical proposal that would save the bridge from demolition and would allow bison to freely cross the Mississippi River.

The proposal – aptly dubbed Bison Bridge – involves constructing a pedestrian path and bike path on one side of the bridge and on the other an enclosed bison paddock.

The two sides of the 20m-wide bridge would be separated with reinforced glass which would allow pedestrians to watch the bison using the crossing.

Pregracke came up with the idea four years ago but the departments of transportation in Iowa and Illinois are now seriously considering the proposal, with construction slated to start in five years.

If completed, the bridge would become the longest human-made wildlife crossing in the world.

The plan would see a new bridge built further down the river, where car traffic will be rerouted.

Chequered history

The Fred Schwengel Memorial Bridge is a four-lane steel girder bridge that carries the Interstate-80 across the Mississippi River between LeClaire, Iowa and Rapids City, Illinois.

The structure was designed by the Iowa State Highway Commission, and was built by the Industrial Construction Company of Minneapolis, Gould Construction Company and Roy Ryan & Sons.

The bridge opened on October 27 1966 and is maintained by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

It underwent a major strengthening project in 1996. However, in 2008, the bridge was closed for two months after inspectors found cracks in the steel under the bridge deck.

On May 12, 2009, the eastbound lane of the bridge closed after a crack was found in the top flange of one of the beams.

The bridge reopened in August 2009. However, on April 10 2015 the bridge was closed once more to carry out emergency repairs to the bridges expansion joints.

Source Plans to transform ageing Mississippi River bridge into world’s longest wildlife crossing | New Civil Engineer

Department of Civil Engineering Department of Civil Engineering – International Burch University (ibu.edu.ba)