Bettendorf Pauses I-74 Elevator Project As Downtown Development Progresses

As the momentum continues to develop Downtown Bettendorf, the City is reevaluating its plan to build an elevator on the I-74 Bridge.

“Now that the new bridge is complete and the old bridge is being demolished, there are exciting plans to transform the areas underneath and west of the bridge,” said Decker Ploehn, City Administrator. “We want to make sure we carefully consider and coordinate all of these developments to set up Downtown Bettendorf for a bright future.”

The plans include completing the Urban Park, which is located underneath the bridge and includes a walkable corridor entwined with decorative rock patterns that provide a pervious surface to help with water infiltration before that water reaches the Mississippi River. To view a video rendering of the future Urban Park, click here.

As for the west side of the bridge – called the West Bridge District – there are plans in the works to redevelop the land between the Urban Park and 6th Street, south of Grant Street, with a mix of residential, office, retail, and greenspace areas that protect the historic character of the neighborhood as well as connect to the Mississippi River and the Mississippi River Trail (MRT).

“Our City Council’s goals for the past few years have been to continue the growth and development west of the new I-74 Bridge,” said Jeff Reiter, Assistant City Administrator and Economic Development Director. “With that, exciting opportunities are ahead for the City. Remanent parcels from the Iowa Department of Transportation have been acquired and property transitions are beginning to take shape. We are excited for some great development projects that will be coming our way in the next couple years.”

Ploehn and Reiter added that the City also wants to be fiscally responsible. When project engineers first estimated the price tag of the elevator project in April 2017, it totaled $2.2 million. Nearly six years later, the cost has more than doubled to $4.6 million and is still rising due to supply chain issues and inflation rates, which rose to their highest level in 2022 since the early 1980s. 

“In the future, City Council could consider reevaluating the elevator,” said Ploehn. “However, in light of these rising costs as well as several tax proposals being considered by the Iowa Legislature this year, we want to be careful with how we spend taxpayer dollars.”

This does not change the current way cyclists, walkers, and runners access the I-74 Bike and Pedestrian Trail. The entrance point, located at the base of the on-ramp on the west side, is ADA-accessible and located right next to a public parking lot off Grant Street that is free for anyone to use.