Designers and architecture students participate in the design of the Bison Bridge

The Landscape Architecture Foundation and Bison Bridge Foundation are hosting 2022 Xtreme LA, a three-day design charrette, to pitch ideas for the bridge.

LE CLAIRE, Iowa — A group of college students and landscape architecture professionals are participating in a three-day design charrette with the Bison Bridge Foundation to pitch design ideas for the I-80 bridge.

In the spring of 2021, the foundation was created by local environmental activist Chad Pregracke. As the Illinois Department of Transportation looks to build a new bridge, the group is proposing to repurpose the current I-80 bridge and make it the longest wildlife crossing in the world. One half would be dedicated to bison, and the other to pedestrians. Pregracke says it would be built and maintained at no cost to taxpayers.

Design professionals from across the country and landscape architecture students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Iowa State University are participating in the Xtreme LA Challenge this week.

The group toured the west side of the river and the I-80 bridge from a boat before taking a bus ride to the Mississippi Rapids rest stop near Rapids City to overlook it.

“It’s not a crazy idea, it can be a reality,” Pregracke said. “We’ve done our due diligence, we’ve brought a lot of people on board, a lot of professionals, and so in my head it’s moving forward and we’ll continue to work really hard as a team to make it happen.”

Alexis Banks is a landscape architecture student at Iowa State University. She also attended the first Bison Bridge Foundation workshop in June.

“I really want to encourage people to be outdoors and be active and also be educational and all that,” Banks said.

On Tuesday’s tour, she said she learned a lot about the Mississippi River and its ecosystems. All of this will help inspire his creations.

“The biggest thing I thought about was passing wildlife, like I don’t know all the birds, and one of my classmates mentioned the passing monarchs,” he said. she declared. “And then just different experiences along the bridge like the viewpoints and different landings for people to learn more about what Chad is doing with living land and water and ecosystems.”

Barbara Deutsch is the CEO of the Landscape Architecture Foundation in Washington DC. She will help supervise the students as they work on their designs.

“It’s a scale and a concept unlike any I’ve seen,” Deutsch said. “They will focus on recreation and also focus on ecology and habitat not only for the bison but I think there will be all kinds of species that will come and enjoy the bridge that we can’t even imagine. correctly. now… The Mississippi River is extraordinarily special and so I think that’s what’s unique and innovative about this project.”

Pregracke previously worked with a local company to come up with design renderings of the Bison Bridge that were released previously. He said he was still working with this group, but was looking forward to seeing what the students came up with.

“It was just kind of what I had in mind, but it’s more like, let’s see what raw, fresh young talent can come up with,” he said. “I’ve worked with some of them before and it was just amazing. Seeing the students mingling with all the professionals from across the country and the local talent, definitely I’m looking forward to the outcome.”

The group will present their final ideas Thursday at 11 a.m. to local officials and the public in the John Deere Auditorium at the Figge Art Museum.

IDOT will hold a third online public meeting on Thursday, October 27 to present the results of the supplemental study, review potential improvement alternatives, and receive public input as part of its study of the I-80 Bridge. This meeting will take place from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and participants can register by clicking/tap here.

Watch more news, weather and sports on the News 8 YouTube channel

Comments are closed.