Interstate 74 in Iowa

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Interstate 74

I-74 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by Iowa DOT
Length5.399 mi[2] (8.689 km)
ExistedAugust 30, 1968[1]–present
HistoryUnder construction 1968–1974
NHSEntire route
Major junctions
West end I-80 in Davenport
Major intersections
East end I-74 / US 6 at the Mississippi River
CountryUnited States
Highway system
US 71 US 75

Interstate 74 (I-74) is the central freeway through the Iowa Quad Cities. It roughly divides Davenport to the west and Bettendorf to the east. The Interstate Highway begins at an interchange with I-80 at the northeastern edge of Davenport and continues into Illinois at the Mississippi River by crossing the I-74 Bridge. The freeway was built in stages during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The northern half of the Interstate was built atop farmland in northeastern Davenport, while the southern half was built near the existing U.S. Highway 6 (US 6) corridor through Bettendorf. After the approaches to the I-74 Bridge were rebuilt for Interstate traffic, it was completed and opened to traffic on November 26, 1974.

The Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) are planning a major reconstruction project along I-74. The seven-mile-long (11 km) corridor will be widened from four lanes to six. A new river crossing will be built to replace the aging bridges. Eastbound motorists on I-80 wishing to use I-74 east of the Quad Cities are suggested to use I-80 east around town for this reason.

Route description

I-74 begins at a trumpet interchange with I-80 on the northern edge of Davenport where it heads to the south. From I-80 to the East 67th Street overpass, the freeway is surrounded by farmland on either side. South of the overpass, it passes a residential area to the east and a commercial area to the west. The East 53rd Street exit provides access to shopping centers on both sides of the Interstate.[3]

Continuing south between East 53rd Street and Spruce Hills Drive, I-74 goes through an area of sparse development. What businesses there are, have frontages on either Elmore Avenue to the west or Utica Ridge Road to the east; the backs of these businesses abut the freeway.[3] At the Spruce Hills Drive exit, US 6 joins from the west. Nearly 0.33 miles (0.53 km) to the west, Spruce Hills Drive becomes Kimberly Road, which carries US 6 through Davenport until it intersects I-280 on the western edge of the Quad Cities.[4]

South of Spruce Hills Drive, I-74 runs parallel to the eastern leg of Kimberly Road, which turned south at its intersection with Spruce Hills Drive. The freeway curves slightly to the southeast and enters Bettendorf. It crosses Duck Creek and meets Middle Road at a diamond interchange.[4]

As I-74 and US 6 head down a hill toward the Mississippi River, a series of exit and entrance ramps connect the freeway to US 67, which runs northbound along State Street and southbound along Grant Street. The Interstate passes over US 67 and railroad tracks belonging to the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad on an elevated highway, which serves as the approach to the I-74 Bridge over the Mississippi River. Despite the singular name, the crossing is actually two twin bridges which each carry one direction of traffic to and from Moline, Illinois.[4]

Two bridges cross a river
I-74 crosses the Mississippi River via the twin spans of the I-74 Bridge.


An Interstate bisecting the Quad Cities was planned as early as 1955

I-74 was part of the original plans for building Iowa's Interstate system.[5] It would form the Iowa leg of a planned freeway from the Quad Cities to Cincinnati, Ohio.[6] Its route through the Quad Cities closely resembles the path drawn up in the mid-1950s.[4][7]

In the Iowa Quad Cities, I-74 opened in three segments beginning on August 30, 1968. On that day, the northernmost three miles (4.8 km), from I-80 to US 6, opened to traffic. The new freeway was built atop farmland west of Utica Ridge Road in the northeastern part of Davenport.[8] The next section was built adjacent to the north–south portion of Kimberly Road, which then carried US 6 through Bettendorf. The segment ended where the Interstate lined up with the older street. The eastbound exit and westbound entrance ramps at Kimberly Road now provide access to and from US 67. The middle section opened in 1971.[1]

Another three years passed before the freeway was completed and opened to traffic. The twin spans of the I-74 Bridge had to be retrofitted to connect to the Interstate. The Iowa-bound bridge was built as a Works Progress Administration project in 1934–1935 and the Illinois-bound bridge was 24 years later.[9] Prior to Interstate construction, the I-74 Bridge terminated at State Street, the northbound lanes of US 67, in Bettendorf. To prevent traffic bottlenecks, traffic was prohibited from making left turns onto and off of the bridges. As a result, loop ramps diverted traffic onto Gilbert Street, one block south of State Street, which curved back to State Street at both ends thus allowing traffic to make the necessary left turns.[10]

Construction of the Interstate meant eliminating the at-grade intersections with State and Grant streets. I-74 was built as elevated highway from the bridges to a new overpass at Kimberly Road. The connections were completed and opened to traffic on November 26, 1974,[1] and dedicated in Moline on December 11, 1975.[11] In the late 1980s, a project was undertaken to widen 53rd Street to four lanes across northern Davenport. It included replacing an overpass of I-74 with an interchange.[12]

The old I-74 bridge spans

In 2005, Iowa DOT and IDOT began planning a new bridge to replace the aging I-74 Bridge. The Iowa-bound bridge opened in 1935; the Illinois bridge in 1958.[9] In addition to replacing the bridges, the scope of the bistate coalition's plan includes updating seven miles (11 km) of I-74 mainline and interchanges from 53rd Street in Davenport to the Avenue of the Cities in Moline.[13] They identified the traffic needs of the corridor and found they would be satisfied by a true-arch, tied-arch, or cable-stayed bridge. After public input and consideration of construction costs and aesthetics, the departments of transportation, in August 2006, recommended building two twin, true-arch, basket-handle bridges.[14] US Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois suggested charging a toll upon motorists who use the new bridges to help pay for their construction. However, a 1998 study, which researched all river crossing options to replace the bridges, deemed new tolls were not viable.[15]

In addition to the new river crossing, the mainline of I-74 between 53rd Street in Davenport and the Avenue of the Cities in Moline will be widened from a four-lane freeway to six lanes; additional lanes will be picked up and dropped in selected locations. The new bridge itself will be eight lanes; three throughlanes and one auxiliary lane that will enter on one side of the river and exit on the other.[16] In downtown Bettendorf, the connection to US 67 was simplified. Previously, State and Grant streets were a one-way couplet through Bettendorf and a network of ramps and city streets formed the interchange. At the new I-74 interchange, State Street was rerouted to briefly join Grant Street so only four ramps were needed to make full connections between I-74 and US 67.[17]

Construction along the corridor has already been completed at the 53rd Street interchange. A partial cloverleaf interchange was added in each direction to allow traffic to enter I-74 without making left turns at its intersection with 53rd Street. This phase of construction ended around December 2012. Officials from Iowa and Illinois, including Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, were scheduled to be on hand to break ground on the new bridge on June 26, 2017.[18] On either side of the arch, a 200-foot-tall (61 m) tower was built to hold the arch into place before the keystone segment was installed.[19] The Iowa-bound keystone was installed on May 5, 2020, after which 108 hangers that support the road deck were strung from the arch.[20] At 72 feet (22 m) wide, the westbound span is wider than both of the older bridges combined. It opened to traffic on November 20, 2020; both directions of I-74 traffic were placed onto the new bridge.[21] Construction on the Illinois-bound arch began shortly after. The eastbound keystone was installed on May 5, 2021.[22]

Exit list

The entire route is in Scott County.

I-80 – Des Moines, ChicagoNational western end of I-74; I-80 exit 298
1.5272.457153rd Street – Hamilton Technical College
US 6 west (Spruce Hills Drive, Kimberly Road)
Western end of US 6 overlap
Bettendorf3.9026.2803Middle Road, Locust Street
4.9447.9574 US 67 (Grant Street, State Street) – Riverfront
Mississippi River5.3998.689I-74 Bridge; Iowa–Illinois state line

I-74 east / US 6 east – Peoria
Continuation into Illinois
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b c Completion Map of Interstate System (PDF) (Map). Iowa Department of Transportation. January 1, 1982. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 29, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Road Network (Portal)" (ESRI shapefile). Ames: Iowa Department of Transportation. April 9, 2021. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Google (August 1, 2011). "Interstate 74 in Iowa" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e Quad Cities inset (PDF) (Map). Iowa Department of Transportation. 2011. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  5. ^ Iowa Department of Transportation (June 2006). "Iowa's Interstate Highway System" (PDF). Inside. p. 20. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
  6. ^ Official Route Numbering for the Nation System of Interstate and Defense Highways (Map). Cartography by Public Roads Administration. American Association of State Highway Officials. August 15, 1957. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
  7. ^ Official Yellow Book map of the Quad Cities (Map). Cartography by Public Roads Administration. Public Roads Administration. 1955. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
  8. ^ Iowa State University. "Iowa Geographic Map Server". 1960s USDA aerial photos. Scott County. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  9. ^ a b Dispatch/Argus staff (2005). "Mississippi Bridge Timeline". The Dispatch / The Rock Island Argus. Progress 2005. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  10. ^ Iowa State University. "Iowa Geographic Map Server". 1960s USDA aerial photos. Bettendorf. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  11. ^ Gaul, Alma (October 6, 2019). "The dedication". Quad-City Times. p. B1. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  12. ^ Grau, Scott (October 30, 1988). "I-74–53rd Street projects gear up". Quad-City Times. p. B1. Retrieved July 17, 2021 – via
  13. ^ Iowa Department of Transportation. "I-74 Corridor Overview". Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  14. ^ Iowa Department of Transportation (August 2006). "Recommended Bridge Type". Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  15. ^ Lemmon, Dustin (April 14, 2011). "I-74 bridge toll should be considered, leaders say". Quad-City Times. Davenport, Iowa. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  16. ^ Iowa Department of Transportation (January 2005). "I-74 Iowa-Illinois Corridor — Preferred alternative". Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  17. ^ Watt, Anthony (March 14, 2016). "Building a bridge". The Rock Island Argus. pp. A1–A2. Retrieved July 17, 2021 – via
  18. ^ Tibbetts, Ed (June 16, 2017). "Two governors to attend I-74 event". Quad-City Times. p. A1. Retrieved July 18, 2021 – via
  19. ^ Ickes, Barb (February 10, 2019). "Great heights". Quad-City Times. pp. B1–B3. Retrieved July 18, 2021 – via
  20. ^ Ickes, Barb (May 24, 2020). "Arch work continues for next span of Interstate 74 project". Quad-City Times. p. A8. Retrieved July 18, 2021 – via
  21. ^ Ickes, Barb (November 12, 2020). "Take a sneak peek at our new I-74 bridge". Quad-City Times. p. A1. Retrieved July 18, 2021 – via
  22. ^ Loewy, Tom (May 6, 2021). "Spectators "wouldn't miss" I-74 milestone". Quad-City Times. p. A1. Retrieved July 18, 2021 – via

External links

Interstate 74
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