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The remaining plaza and downstairs offices are the only things connecting the twins.The two offices are nearly identical and are joined by a hallway with windows on either side.
We are talking — get this — 2,800 square feet of offices, restrooms, mechanical storage, built-in safes, even showers.The concrete walls are several feet thick, and windows are everywhere.The Iowa-bound span of I-74 was built first, opening as a local tollway in 1935.Behind us was a large orange DOT truck — the kind used for plowing snow.Behind that was another large, orange DOT vehicle with a lighted, flashing arrow mounted on back."I even went to a locksmith for advice."I always said that might be where Jimmy Hoffa ended up."When he noted the ceiling beam in one office extended into the vault, he even tried to make the argument the vault should be opened, so he could inspect that beam. It likely will be up to the demolition company that is hired to demolish the bridge in a few years to decide what to do with the vault.
(Stand by.)The offices are mostly barren now, except for a single desk, a pile of retired bridge cables and some steel plates.
Two things struck me immediately: It was much warmer than I had expected, given the outdoor temperature lingered at freezing.
And the traffic noise above us was so muted, it had no effect on our conversations.
Although the speed limit on the bridge is 50 mph, many motorists regard it as more recommendation than rule.
Plus, there are no turn lanes into the old plaza, and vehicles in either direction have very little warning when someone attempts to merge in or out.
So I poked around, finding lots of pictures of the old toll booths but finding little about what appeared to be offices underneath them. The yellowed news clip was in an envelope in the Quad-City Times' archives, marked, "BRIDGES - INTERSTATE 74" and "early clips."Sure enough, the story revealed that the offices were built into the piers that support the bridge deck and toll plaza.