The Interstate 80 bridge that spans the Mississippi River between Le Claire, Iowa and Rapids City, Illinois needs to be replaced, but instead of demolishing the structure, an innovative proposal is emerging.

The Bison Bridge Foundation wants to repurpose the bridge, opening it to pedestrians and wildlife, including a herd of American bison. Alexis Banks of Dyersville, a landscape and architecture student at Iowa State University, was part of a group that drafted design ideas for the proposed bridge.

“The one thing that is really interesting to me is how much more expensive it is to take that down and destroy it than to create something that can help the community and people and animals,” Banks says. “So I feel like it is a clear option.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation is considering seven potential locations for the interstate’s Mississippi River crossing. A study on the existing bridge’s future is expected to be completed in 2023. The bridge opened in 1966.

(By Zachary Oren Smith, Iowa Public Radio)