We are talking — get this — 2,800 square feet of offices, restrooms, mechanical storage, built-in safes, even showers.You can guess what happened next: I set out to land myself and a photographer a tour of the bridge's underbelly.(Stand by.)The offices are mostly barren now, except for a single desk, a pile of retired bridge cables and some steel plates.
The remaining plaza and downstairs offices are the only things connecting the twins.
Leaning my head back against the boat seat, I took a long look up at the underbelly of the bridge. I wondered about them for a long time, figuring the windows must have something to do with the toll-taking operation that once occupied the center of the I-74.
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.
The old plaza today serves as a parking spot for bridge contractors, the Iowa Department of Transportation and motorists unfortunate enough to have car trouble while crossing.
Directly underneath the mid-span parking lot is a giant space that time forgot.