The new U.S. 52-Illinois 64 bridge over the Mississippi River, connecting the communities of Savanna, Ill., and Sabula, Iowa, opened in 2017.
The conclusion of the project was a source of pride for everyone involved – from the Illinois Department of Transportation as the lead agency to its counterparts in Iowa and the twin communities of Savanna and Sabula. That’s partly because the old bridge felt like such a tight squeeze for so long.
By simply doubling the width of the bridge, transportation in a relatively isolated and rural part of the Midwest is safer, more reliable and functioning much more smoothly.
The previous bridge was just 20 feet across with no room for shoulders, a notorious safety concern because it was too narrow to accommodate bicycles or disabled vehicles. Large trucks often overlapped into the opposite lane, a situation that could create traffic headaches during harvest season.
Trading paint was not unheard of.
The new structure is more than 2,400 feet long, stretching from the middle of the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife & Fish Refuge on the Iowa side, to the high bluffs of the Mississippi Palisades State Park in Illinois. The focal point is the main span, a steel tied-arch.
But the feature that has provided the most benefit is an additional 20 feet in width.
At 40 feet across, the new bridge fits two wider lanes and shoulders.
Throughout the project, IDOT was cognizant of the community’s dependence on keeping commerce flowing.
Located about 150 miles west of Chicago, the old bridge was constructed in 1932 as a private toll bridge. It helped to put the region on the map by ushering in a new era of transportation. Its replacement showed the transformative power of investing in infrastructure remains as strong as ever.