Bridging the Divisions within the Community
The growth and development of Rock Island has been profoundly influenced by its relationship to the Mississippi and Rock rivers and to the surrounding interstate highway system. While much of this influence has proven beneficial, the Rock River and Interstate 280 corridors have also created real and perceived barriers between the northern and southern portions of the City.
While the City’s northern area has a more urban and historical character, the southern area, with its developing businesses and residential neighborhoods, retains a strong rural character. Finding ways to effectively bridge these physical and visual divisions within the community has become an important goal for Rock Island’s planning and development efforts.
Unifying Two Halves of the Community
Building on the Southwest Area Plan, prepared by Wallace, Roberts and Todd, in 2001, the City hired Schreiber Anderson and Associates to develop a concept that would unify the two halves of the community. The Parkway Plan set out to accomplish this by:
- Creating a unified transportation corridor linking Rock Island north and south of the Rock River, including:
- Controlled access
- Established, clear access points to Parkway
- Increased visual continuity
- Expanded community linkages to and from the Parkway
- Creating a positive image of Rock Island by:
- Controlling land use appearance through use of design guidelines, screening, etc.
- Enhancing, maintaining, and managing landscape appearance
- Controlling billboards, overhead lines, and sources of visual clutter
- Developing a coordinated theme of landscape, lighting, and color to identify and unify the corridor
- Expanding access to educational and recreational opportunities along the corridor
- Enhancing community accessibility along the Parkway by:
- Developing a wayfinding system
- Highlighting access points to community destinations
- Encouraging multi-use / multimodal transportation in the corridor
- Enhancing pedestrian crossing opportunities and safety along the Parkway
Many elements of the plan have been implemented in the intervening years, with billboards being restricted, a design theme based on the Centennial Bridge’s arches being implemented, establishing a Quad City wide wayfinding system, and having the Milan Beltway renamed the Rock Island / Milan Parkway.