Public input wanted on Florence bridge replacement - Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Public input wanted on Florence bridge replacement

The Florence bridge The Florence bridge

Residents in Pike and Scott counties met with state officials Thursday night to discuss the future of the Florence Bridge. It's a bridge crossing the Illinois River vital to many farmers and businesses.

Scott County Farmer Ben Coon said the Florence bridge is crucial for farmers like him to get to the nearby Cargill elevator or the Rock quarry.

"We use it daily during harvest," Coon said. "Lots of farmers use Cargill and get lime from this quarry so it's a big deal. It's a big cost saver to not have to go around or travel a long ways."

Rex McIntire with the IDOT steering committee, and Mayor of Winchester, said it's time to replace the aging bridge.

"This bridge was built in 1929 so it's got a lot of years on it and they've been having several problems with it," McIntire said.

McIntire said they've looked at several options to move the bridge a few miles south or north. He said IDOT could move the bridge completely out of the area, but the committee is looking at keeping the bridge close to its current location.

"The vast majority of the steering committee opted to go just south of the bridge about 100 to 200 feet and build a new bridge there," McIntire said.

When a barge comes through, drivers are often waiting twenty to thirty minutes to cross the bridge. McIntire said with the new bridge, that will be a thing of the past.

"It would be an arch bridge," McIntire added. "You wouldn't have stoppages like you do now when a barge comes."

Still in the planning stage, the bridge is expected to cost $70 million. For local residents, its money well spent with many businesses relying on the bridge and moving it out of the area would hurt the local economy.

"This area is a sparsely populated area, but this bridge is still critical for our agricultural industry," McIntire said.

Officials expect to have a final plan in place sometime next year, but actual construction of the new bridge may not start for another 5 years when funding comes available.

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