The green hulk is disappearing from the Moline riverfront, and the land beneath it is looking larger by the minute.

Any lingering sentiment for the old Interstate 74 bridge is waning. It's a strange attachment, given that the old bridge tried to kill us in its final years. So many prayers were said on that old bridge, we could have sent our tithes to the DOT.

The main bridge over the river won't fall for many more months, but its tentacles are being amputated by heavy equipment operators and welders. Throughout last week, we watched their giant jackhammers return the ramp concrete to rock.

With the concrete in a heap on the ground, welders rose in buckets to slice the ends of steel sections, which then were lowered to the ground by cranes. Bit by bit, the ramps are disappearing.

From the river's edge to River Drive, about two city blocks are reemerging from the shadows of the ramps — land that hasn't seen daylight since the first span was built in 1935.

Another city block is opening up to the south of River Drive, casting itself into the inventory of downtown parcels that are likely to see redevelopment.

Of course, city leaders have been making plans for the property for years. Now that we can see some of what will become all-vacant land, the scale of opportunity/challenge looms large.

Moline made short work during the week of prepping the old Spiegel Building parking lot at the foot of the new River Drive ramp for access to the bike/pedestrian path. Trucks and backhoes moved dirt and gravel, and the tidy lot now is a great spot to park and walk over the Mississippi River. The grading work created 60 parking spaces for ped-path walkers. 

In walking tours last week of the grounds under the old ramps, a previously hidden gem emerged. Many people no doubt knew about the narrow little levee/park that sits on the shoreline due east of the old bridge.

Lined with benches and lush, well-kept grass, the patch of riverfront no doubt is a secret to some. From the benches, the two bridges are bookends to a pool of still water. It is shaded and private and alive with families of mallards and geese.

As the city and its people continue to imagine new uses for the old property, it becomes much easier to do so as the steel and concrete are carted away. When the dust settles, we no longer will have to imagine what lies beneath the green hulk.

Finally, the dust is settling.