Unsightly truck auctions now a city 'enterprise' thanks to $1.9 million state purchase for bridge

The Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) this spring paid $1.9 million to acquire 3.8 acres of Bettendorf riverfront property – owned by the Goldstein family's Green Bridge Company – needed for the new Interstate 74 Bridge.

The land was part of the property once hyped as the future site of a Mark Twain-themed amusement park by gambling proponents setting off to lobby the Iowa legislature in the early 1990's.

Today, the site is little changed from 25 years ago: a large expanse of deteriorating asphalt paving and a long rusty shed that once was part of the old J.I. Case Manufacturing Plant.

The long steel plant skeleton serves as a haven for pigeons, and the empty field of asphalt has become the site of monthly semi-trailer truck auctions by a Rock Island firm.

Not much is expected to change as to the land use until bridge construction starts in earnest two years hence, but now the City of Bettendorf will be getting a slice of rent from those truck auctions. A total of $1,250 per auction to be exact.

Since the state can't engage in profiting from land acquired through condemnation, the IDOT signed an agreement with the city to allow it to reap the rent in exchange for maintaining the property until needed by the state for bridge work.

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