City officials say elevator suppliers in the U.S. do not produce specific components of the structure. Due to the lack of domestic availability of certain necessary elevator components, city officials are seeking a Buy America waiver.
If the waiver is rejected, city officials have said they would have to find an elevator company that could custom build the two cars to meet the Buy America requirement, which would likely double the city’s cost. Officials have said that it’s more likely the city would simply wait out the life of the Buy America agreement and go ahead with plans, including elevator cars with foreign-made components, which would delay the project.
Ernst said she intends to call on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to support the city’s request of the waiver.
The letdown structure on the west side of the Illinois-bound span, near the Bettendorf riverfront, is being built to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists with elevator cars big enough to easily carry bikes from the bridge to the riverfront paths below.
Ernst and city leaders also discussed plans to reconstruct the Interstate-80 bridge and six-lane the interstate from the Mississippi River to Iowa City, as well as funding upgrades to area lock and dam systems.
“Sixty percent of the world’s grain travels down that Mississippi River. Those lock and dam systems that are over 50 years antiquated are going to have to be replaced,” Bettendorf Mayor Robert Gallagher said. “The senator is on board, understanding that that’s the real type of infrastructure our community and our states need — roads and bridges and sewers,” in addition to increased federal funding to help communities protect vital infrastructure such as wastewater treatment plants from flooding being exacerbated by climate change.