City places high priority on new $1.15 million Devils Glen Road bridge over Spencer Creek

Most Bettendorf residents have never driven along Devils Glen Road, north of Interstate 80, where it crosses Spencer Creek.

Devils Glen Road south of I-80 is one of the main north-south city thoroughfares with heavy traffic, but the Devils Glen north of the interstate is a gravel and asphalt road serving three farm homes. It connects with Utica Ridge on the east and to 215th Street on the north.

At least it used to connect to those streets.

After an inspection more than a year ago, the city closed the Spencer Creek bridge because of its deteriorated condition.

With its remote location and very limited traffic, it would be understandable if the city would assign a low priority on its replacement, particularly given all the other deteriorating streets in town. But that is a totally wrong assumption.

Replacing the bridge across Spencer Creek for $1.15 million – $230,000 of city funds with the rest from state and federal sources – is among the city's top street priorities for the coming construction season.

While it’s a good bet Devils Glen Road north of I-80 will become a major street someday in the future, that day seems pretty far off if you look at the surrounding properties – farm land in all directions.

If a new overpass were to be built over I-80 to connect the two segments of Devils Glen, a new bridge would be big priority. Or, if large residential subdivisions were on the drawing boards, say near Hidden Hills Golf Course, access roads north of the interstate would take on added urgency.

But why the rush to spend money on a road project so far from the city’s main drag – Middle Road – already well-known for its deteriorated washboard condition?

City officials say it’s a good deal for taxpayers. Here is Public Works Director Brian Schmidt explanation:

“Design, construction of a thirty foot (30’) wide structure without approach pavement in its existing location, construction observation, and miscellaneous contingencies, were estimated at approximately $450,000. All of which would have been paid for entirely with city funding.

“Staff (after the bridge closure) also investigated the option of obtaining federal funding for this project. A proposed plan was submitted to the state and the city received the necessary funding to design and construct a new bridge that would align with 215th Street to the north, reconfigure a good portion of bridge approach pavement along Devils Glen, and set the city up for the future should development start occurring north of I-80. This new bridge and alignment is estimated at $1.15 million with the city’s portion of that being $230,000. In summary, this is a savings to the taxpayers of Bettendorf.”

So how many cars will actually use that stretch of Devils Glen Road once the brand new and improved bridge is finished? Schmidt doesn't know because city doesn’t have current traffic volumes “for this particular section of roadway.”

While the city seems bent on building a new bridge on a road with little traffic, its completion isn’t entirely certain.

One of the adjacent farmers/landowners isn’t happy the new bridge will require some of his land for the expanded bridge approaches.

Negotiations have begun. Eminent domain is being discussed by the city council. Condemnation may be needed to obtain the needed right-of-way.

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