The project went through a design phase that picked a sleek cable stayed bridge and associated highway projects totaling $1.6-billion. The bridge featured a 2,000 foot main span that entirely cleared the Mississippi River. The key architectural feature would be the two slender towers soaring 510 feet into the air configured to arch back away from the river, with an asymmetrical cable arrangement.
In late 2005, both states decided that the costs were simply not feasible. As a result, a year long bridge redesign was undertaken. A new more conventional cable stay bridge with two towers at each end emerged. It will be symmetrical with a 1,500 foot main span. As of late 2006, construction is scheduled to start early in 2007. The completion date depends on funding levels from year to year, which is approved by the states on a yearly basis.
As of early 2007, Congress has provided $280-million for the bridge. That leaves the states of Missouri and Illinois to come up with about $700-million to complete the bridge. Illinois is ready to go, but Missouri is not willing to spend the money, claiming that there are more important highway projects in the state that need to be funded. Illinois has even offered to loan Missouri the money to get the bridge started, but so far, no deal has been agreed upon.
Update—as of 2008, a new plan is in the works. The original I-70 project and bridge will be broken into two projects, an initial project, and a future full concept project. The initial project is to build one half of the bridge, a short segment of I-70 freeway on a new alignment, and a minimal set of ramps to connect the bridge and highway to the existing highway network. The full concept will add a second parallel bridge span, complete the new alignment for I-70, and fill out the remaining freeway ramps on the various interchanges. This will hopefully address the existing traffic problems without having to fund the entire project in one shot.
Update— as of May 2009, construction work on the Illinois side of the river has begun. The initial project is fully funded at this time and is expected to move forward on schedule. Notably absent from the project web site is the previously announced bridge name. Perhaps that name is being revisited with the change of political parties running Congress and living in the White House?
Note—the renderings on this page are borrowed from the New River Bridge web site. The rendering above is the 2008 bridge concept where only one span of the 2006 bridge concept is planned to be built in the initial project. A later full concept project is proposed to add the second parallel bridge span.