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Posted on: June 11, 2019

Tour the New I-74 Bridge in a Virtual Way at RI Library

High resolution illustration of new I-74 bridge arches

The I-74 Mississippi River Bridge Virtual Reality Experience will be available for viewing at the Rock Island Downtown Library, 401 19th Street, from now through September 27.The virtual reality program allows participants to explore the new I-74 Mississippi River Bridge in a unique way, thanks to 360-degree animation from the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) and technology partners from the Iowa State University Institute for Transportation and Virtual Reality Applications Center.

Through creative collaboration, Iowa DOT and Iowa State University have provided an unforgettable way to experience, engage with and explore the reconstruction of one of the most important regional interstate systems. With the aid of the Virtual Reality headset, participants can "fly" through the bridge corridor, stand on top of the arch to get a bird’s-eye-view of the reconstructed interstate, hop into a car and drive across the new four-lane I-74 Bridge, walk along the multi-use path, look down to the river from the scenic Oculus overlook, and even dive into the river to see the wildlife that are an essential part of the river’s ecosystem.

Viewers can use the controller to "pick up" various mussel species as a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologist provides information about the species. The Mississippi River is full of wildlife, including species on the federal Threatened and Endangered Species list. The Iowa and Illinois departments of transportation led a large-scale mussel relocation as part of the I-74 River Bridge project and received an award from the Federal Highway Administration in 2017 for these efforts.

To view this one-of-a-kind simulation, participants may stop by the Reference Desk on the library's first floor to check out the Virtual Reality headset and controller. The tour takes about 10 minutes per person, depending on the user. The VR station is available on the library's second floor from 9:30 am until 45 minutes before closing time. Because the headset needs to fit snugly, the VR experience is not recommended for very small children.

The Rock Island Downtown Library is open Monday through Thursday until 8:00 pm and Friday and Saturdays until 5:00 pm. The VR set-up may be temporarily unavailable during a limited number of library events that use the nearby collaboration space. Please note that the VR Experience will not be available on Saturday, August 31 due to a special closing during the Downtown Cart Races and on July 4 and September 2, due to holiday closings. For details or questions, please call the library Reference Desk at 309-732-7341. 

The intense, immersive virtual environment makes it possible for the Iowa DOT and other agencies to give you a more complete understanding of how infrastructure projects will look and interact with the surrounding environment. The I-74 virtual reality simulations use 3-D models developed by the Alfred Benesch & Co. engineering consultant team, and new 3-D content developed by the Iowa DOT’s Office of Bridges and Structures and Iowa State University.

The I-74 virtual reality program was made possible through a variety of federal and state funds. It is on loan to the Rock Island Public Library at no charge thanks to a partnership with the i-74 Bridge Experience.

For more free events offered as part of the library's "Universe of Stories" summer programming, please visit the library's website calendar, call 309-732-READ or follow the library on social media.

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