Eureka College's Student Magazine Since 1889

The Eureka College Pegasus

Eureka College's Student Magazine Since 1889

The Eureka College Pegasus

Eureka College's Student Magazine Since 1889

The Eureka College Pegasus

Peoria Bridge Construction Poses Inconvenience for Eureka College

Emma Braten
Photo of McClugage Bridge

Anyone familiar with the Midwest knows that with the warm weather always comes peak construction season. Now that the fall season is approaching many are hoping to see the end of detours and one lane roads. 

One place in particular that often poses an issue is McClugage Bridge in Peoria, Il. For context, construction on the bridge began in Spring 2019 and was projected to end in Fall 2023.  The bridge is currently nowhere near completion. 

Many staff and students commute from the Peoria area as it is one of the nearest metropolitan regions. For most of them this requires crossing the bridge. 

“I feel like it is always a coin flip. I don’t have class until noon some days, so I never know if I am going to hit the lunch rush traffic or not.  It also sucks because if I want to go to a restaurant or shop most of that stuff is in Peoria,” (Senior) Parker Brodine said. 

Two professors who commute from Peoria gave their thoughts on the situation too.

The commute isn’t bad, honestly! Traffic flow is the opposite to what we do on a daily basis, so it has been mostly free-flowing since construction started. This means congestion comes into Peoria in the morning while it leaves Peoria in the afternoon/evening. I feel far worse for those folks. My commute is 20-25 minutes based purely on how many stop lights I happen to hit”, Dr. Swan, Associate Professor of Psychology, said. 

“I haven’t really had too many problems with the construction so far, and I still take the McCluggage Bridge every day. I definitely leave extra time (I always leave my house an hour before I need to be on campus) and that has worked fine. I know that there was a small construction-related fire on the bridge last week that made getting back to Peoria a nightmare, but I managed to miss it”, Dr. Harlin, Assistant Professor of Postcolonial Literature, said.

The fire, which happened on August 22nd, included a crane catching fire and falling onto a barge. The crane fell into the water before firefighters could respond. No one was injured but it caused both sides of the bridge to be closed for over an hour while first responders assessed the damage.

This accident is reported to set the bridge back even farther and continue to delay the opening. It is also expected to cost in the millions to repair what was lost in the accident.

When contacted for a comment about the ongoing construction situation, the construction team behind the McClugage Bridge Project did not respond to a request for comment.

For the most part, while the bridge does not pose significant risks to safety or serious delays it is often a sore spot for those wanting to travel into the city. Peoria is notorious for having bad streets and while it is a positive that the city is making the investment on their infrastructure, it always seems like there is a crisis that prevents it from being completed on time. 

“The reason they are so behind is because of the lack of money and there was no good planning ahead of building. They lost the initial bid money and so they were set back and now companies are denying them the parts and money they need to finish,” an anonymous construction worker who is currently part of the team said.

A few years prior construction was done on Murray Baker Bridge, the other large bridge that spans the river, and it was closed from March of 2020 through October 2020. The choice to close the bridge was made due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and they wanted to complete the construction as quickly as possible.

The reason that McClugage Bridge cannot be closed is because one other bridge, Bob Michel Bridge, is closed on the other side of East Peoria. While it is not the mammoth that McClugage or Murray Baker is, it is still a vital route for many traveling to Peoria. When asked about the choice to work on both bridges at the same time the Illinois Department of Transportation declined to respond.

At this time, Bob Michel Bridge is scheduled to reopen in November of 2023. 

They have recently updated the website for McCluggage Bridge to say that the new bridge is now expected to open in Fall 2024 for use and demolition on the old one to begin in 2025. 


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About the Contributor
Emma Braten
Emma Braten, Staff Contributor
Emma Braten (Maquon, IL) is currently a senior and majors in Communication and Media Studies with a minor in Art and Design and a certificate in Leadership. Emma is a passionate St. Jude volunteer and her interests include  writing about the shifting culture surrounding college students and the challenges that they are facing today.