Bettendorf eyes spending $61,000 to prove Trump's 'Buy America' requirement a bad deal for taxpayers

Bettendorf aldermen are considering spending $61,000 to prove President Trump's "Buy America" requirement is a bad deal for local taxpayers, costing tens of thousands of dollars more to build the free-standing elevator connecting the Mississippi River recreation trail with the new I-74 Bridge.

"The reason for the special provision and the stand-alone project is the current Federal administration and its refusal to grant any waivers for "Buy America" exemptions," city staff stated in a report to the council. "The majority of the steel components in the proposed elevators are not produced domestically by Kone and would have qualified for waivers previously, but this administration has not granted a single waiver."

Kone is headquartered in Finland, but its U.S. Operations Center is located in Moline. It also has an escalator manufacturing facility in Coal Valley.

City officials are seeking approval to spend the $61,000 to prepare new bids for the letdown (elevator) structure separate from the overall bridge project to show the significant difference in cost between using domestic versus foreign steel.

"There is a Federal alternative bidding statute that is very infrequently used but would grant an automatic waiver if you bid the project using both foreign and domestic steel and can show a price increase for the domestic over a certain percentage," the city's engineer reported.

The elevator connecting the Mississippi River Trail to the new bridge was originally estimated to cost $1.3 million. The new I-74 Bridge is now estimated to cost $1.2 billion. The new bridge will have three lanes in each direction, plus the bike/pedestrian lane connecting Bettendorf and Moline.

The staff recommendation will be considered by aldermen at the city council's Tuesday (9/3) meeting.

Elevator/letdown structure drawing showing how it will connect the Mississippi River Trail with the new I-74 Bridge.

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