WBEZ | construction http://www.wbez.org/tags/construction Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The next supertall building in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/next-supertall-building-chicago-108531 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/new topper for skyscrapers.jpg" title="" /></div></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/120917025&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>If you want to see evidence of the recession&rsquo;s impact on skyscraper construction, you don&rsquo;t need to pore over spreadsheets or the architectural billings index.</p><p>You just need to go to 400 N. Lake Shore Dr., where you&rsquo;ll find a pit about 100 ft. wide and 80 ft. deep.<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2012-08/what-might-have-been-ill-fated-chicago-spire-101922"> The ill-fated Chicago Spire</a> was supposed to be the tallest building in the western hemisphere. But the twisting 2,000-foot tower failed to attract enough financing and was hit with foreclosure lawsuits. Now it&rsquo;s the most-watched hole in the ground in Chicago real estate.</p><p>In June real estate developer<a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2013/06/24/related-in-deal-to-buy-distressed-debt-on-stalled-chicago-spire-project/"> Related Cos. of New York reportedly entered talks to buy the Spire&#39;s discounted debt</a>. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment &ldquo;as it is currently the subject of litigation.&rdquo;</p><p>One-time Chicagoan and curious citizen Andrew Wambach remembers the excitement surrounding the Spire.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the things I loved about Chicago was its iconic skyline,&rdquo; said Wambach, 28, who moved to Minnesota in April. &ldquo;In Minneapolis we have about three towers and that&rsquo;s it!&rdquo;<img a="" alt="" as="" built="" chicago="" class="image-original_image" exciting="" full="" fully="" is="" it="" made="" metropolis="" minneapolis="" more="" moving="" of="" on="" one="" out="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/andrew%20wambach%20photo.jpeg" starter="" style="height: 265px; width: 175px; float: right;" that="" the="" things="" title="Andrew Wambach is from Minneapolis but moved to Chicago for work between 2011-2013." to="" was="" where="" with="" /></p><p>So he asked us:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>When will Chicago get its next super tall skyscraper?</em></p><p>Massive developments are difficult to design and build. But when they do happen, it&rsquo;s generally because two important factors came together to make building up pay off: egos and economics.</p><p><strong>But first, just how tall is that?</strong></p><p>Andrew didn&rsquo;t know this when he asked the question, but &ldquo;supertall&rdquo; is an objective term. Chicago&rsquo;s own Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat is the authority on such matters. They deem any building over 300 meters, or 984 feet, &ldquo;supertall.&rdquo; Six buildings in Chicago qualify: The Trump Tower, Willis Tower, Aon Center, John Hancock Center, AT&amp;T Corporate Center, and Two Prudential Plaza.</p><p>Walk into any major architectural office and you&rsquo;ll see plenty of renderings pinned to the wall, showing buildings reaching great heights. They&rsquo;re just in Jeddah, Seoul, Abu Dhabi, Beijing &mdash; not Chicago.</p><p>In 2011 CTBUH even had to add a new category of tall building to reflect the explosive growth of tall buildings in recent years. So-called &ldquo;megatall&rdquo; buildings stand at least 600 meters (1,968 feet) tall. There are only two complete megatall buildings: the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and the Royal Hotel Clock Tower in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Construction topped out this month on the Shanghai Tower, 632 meters (2,074 feet) tall.<a href="http://www.ctbuh.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=M0GYftI6cgI%3D&amp;tabid=2926&amp;language=en-US" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Diagram%20of%20the%20predicted%20World%27s%2020%20Tallest%20in%20the%20year%202020%20as%20of%20Dec%202011CTBUH.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 620px;" title="For context, here's a diagram of the predicted world's 20 tallest buildings in the year 2012. These projections were made in December, 2011. (Courtesy of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat)" /></a></p><p><strong>A likely candidate?</strong></p><p>&ldquo;If there was a great location, a great site, a developer that really had the willpower to pull something off, it certainly could happen,&rdquo; said Rafael Carreira, a principal with <a href="http://tjbc.com">The John Buck Company</a>. &ldquo;But the larger a project gets, the harder it is to finance, the harder it is to pre-sell or premarket ... and those are factors that make these supertalls hard to do.&rdquo;</p><p>In July City Council approved the first part of an audacious redevelopment plan for the massive Old Main Post Office downtown, which has loomed vacant over the Eisenhower Expressway since 1996. The plans come from British developer Bill Davies&rsquo; International Property Developers and local architects Antunovich Associates. They call first for a rehab of the existing 2.7 million square foot post office and the construction of a 1,000-foot tower, to be followed in a later phase by a 2,000-foot tower that would be the tallest in the Western Hemisphere.</p><p>The first phase could take eight to 10 years, Joe Antunovich said, while the rest might take 20 years. But first they need to secure financing. The entire project could cost $4 billion. It would be an impressive feat, to be sure. But in that amount of time, Shanghai&rsquo;s Pudong district<a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6600367"> went from mainly farmland to a part of a metropolis with more skyscrapers than New York City</a>.</p><p><strong>Why the action is outside Chicago</strong></p><p>There are a few factors behind Asia&rsquo;s building boom that don&rsquo;t quite apply to Chicago. For one thing, said CTBUH Executive Director Antony Wood, Chicago just doesn&rsquo;t need to make a statement with its skyline like Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia did when its Petronas Towers unseated Willis Tower as the world&rsquo;s tallest in 1998.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/hancock%20from%20sears%20by%20wakedog%20flickr.jpg" style="height: 406px; width: 270px; float: left;" title="Chicago's downtown has grown to make the Hancock building seem appropriately sized. (Flickr/wakedog)" /></p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s driving these tall buildings around the world is attention in a global market and population growth,&rdquo; Wood said. &ldquo;And, on the face of it, we&rsquo;re not seeing any of that in Chicago.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTABOUTUS/0,,contentMDK:23272497~pagePK:51123644~piPK:329829~theSitePK:29708,00.html?argument=value">The world gains more than 5 million city dwellers every month</a>, and the U.S. accounts for very little of that urbanization. It&rsquo;s happening in places like China, where<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/world/asia/chinas-great-uprooting-moving-250-million-into-cities.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0"> a government plan to move 250 million people into cities by 2025</a> helps generate huge demand for high-density, supertall buildings.</p><p>But even if Chicago isn&rsquo;t home to many new supertalls, it&rsquo;s still a nerve center of sorts for tall building architecture and engineering.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s not many really significant tall buildings that are not happening with some Chicago expertise anywhere in the world &mdash; architectural, engineering, geotechnical, façade &mdash; but some Chicago input,&rdquo; Wood said. &ldquo;However it is fair to say that there has been a major shift in almost all aspects of tall buildings.&rdquo;</p><p>In addition to moving to Asia, supertall towers have changed since Chicago&rsquo;s skyline rose decades ago. Tall towers today tend to have more retail and residential space than their counterparts from previous generations. They are often mixed-use &mdash; combining hotel, retail, office and/or residential space in one building &mdash; and use different structural systems, like concrete-steel composites as opposed to just steel. And rather than bearing corporate names such as Chrysler, Sears and Petronas, they&rsquo;re increasingly named to inspire civic pride: Russia Tower, Chicago Spire; Burj Khalifa was originally called Burj Dubai.</p><p>Brian Lee, a design partner at Skidmore, Owings &amp; Merrill &mdash; the architectural offices behind thousands of skyscrapers around the world, including four of Chicago&rsquo;s six supertalls &mdash; has seen the effect of these projects first-hand.</p><p>&ldquo;We think that the tall building is not the only kind of building type that should be built, obviously. It has limitations,&rdquo; Lee said, &ldquo;but there&rsquo;s something exhilarating about a tall structure that makes a mark for a city and a region.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Our prospects</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Would we be interested? Absolutely &hellip; I think Chicago could stand to have another tall building,&rdquo; Lee said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s composed of multiple centers, so there&rsquo;s many good sites for a tall building that would work.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicago-spire-hole-by-Duane%20Rapp%20flickr.jpg" style="height: 166px; width: 250px; float: right;" title="Before buildings go up, first they must go down. Here is the hole for the much-anticipated but perhaps never to be Chicago Spire. (Flickr/Duane Rapp)" /></p><p>The demographic shifts driving the market globally (population growth and urbanization) do exist in the U.S., but on a different scale. Downtown occupancy rates have risen in recent years as people begin to move back to the city center. And for Lee Chicago represents something less tangible, too.</p><p>&ldquo;The spirit of can-do here, and the real appreciation of architecture as being an accomplishment of generations of people that live in Chicago, is very strong,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So I think that it&rsquo;s a very beautiful place that can accommodate tall buildings. There&rsquo;s a natural balance between the built environment and the natural environment.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, it might not generate enough demand for developers to take the risk on a massive building.</p><p>&ldquo;I might be as bold to say we will never see the world&rsquo;s tallest here again,&rdquo; Wood said. &ldquo;But I would not be as bold to say that we won&rsquo;t see a supertall building here again.&rdquo;</p><p>For our questioner, Andrew Wambach, that might not be so bad.</p><p>&ldquo;Maybe the supertall is done and Chicago doesn&rsquo;t need it anymore. They can say &lsquo;been there, done that. We can be a great city without a supertall structure by the resilience of our neighborhoods, our restaurants, our culture,&rsquo;&rdquo; he said, but &ldquo;if tomorrow they announced the Spire site was going to be the next supertall, I would do a little jump at my job. It would be exciting.&rdquo;</p><p>Andrew raised another interesting question: If skyscrapers are a statement of their city&rsquo;s character, what should influence the design of Chicago&rsquo;s next supertall if it actually comes to be?<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/riverpoint-courtesy-hines-and-pickard-chilton.jpg" style="height: 243px; width: 320px; float: left;" title="A park plan for the base at Riverpoint. (Courtesy of Hines and Pickard Chilton)" /></p><p>New skyscrapers at Wolf Point, River Point and 150 N. Riverside &mdash; three sites abutting the Chicago River at its confluence downtown &mdash; feature riverwalk connections and landscaped parks at their bases. Two of them actually have broader shoulders, as it were, than footprints. Landscape architect Ted Wolff laughed, remembering Wolf Point was the first time he&rsquo;d actually heard an architect tell him to expand his landscaping so far it would hem in the lobby.</p><p>They may not be supertalls by the Council on Tall Buildings&rsquo; definition, but these recently announced high-rises suggest Chicago&rsquo;s architectural legacy may be as much about Millennium Park as it is about Willis Tower.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley is a writer with WBEZ and Midwest Editor for <a href="http://archpaper.com">The Architect&rsquo;s Newspaper</a>. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley">@cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 26 Aug 2013 16:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/next-supertall-building-chicago-108531 Morning Shift: Community loses neighborhood field house and demands answers http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-19/morning-shift-community-loses-neighborhood-field <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/House - www.chicagonow.com_.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Community members in the Pilsen nieghborhood protested the demolition of a field house at Whittier Elementary, but the building was still razed. Chicago Public Schools officials cited safety concerns for its closure. We learn about the fight to save it, and what&#39;s next for the community.</p><p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-46/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-46.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-46" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Community loses neighborhood field house and demands answers" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p></p> Mon, 19 Aug 2013 08:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-08-19/morning-shift-community-loses-neighborhood-field Repair work caused commuting delays from Lake Shore Drive to Michigan Avenue http://www.wbez.org/news/repair-work-caused-commuting-delays-lake-shore-drive-michigan-avenue-107532 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/construction1_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Commuters were in for a surprise Tuesday morning as crews began work on 923 N. Michigan Avenue &ndash; the intersection before traffic enters and exits Lake Shore Drive &ndash; causing a bottleneck and consequent delays.</p><p>The work was the result of an emergency sewer repair for the intersection of Walton Street and Michigan Ave., according to a city permit.</p><p><a href="https://data.cityofchicago.org/Transportation/Michigan-Ave-construction/w78k-fsbp">The right-of-way permit</a> filed with the Chicago Department of Transportation, the work required the closure of a northbound left turn lane and one southbound through lane on Michigan Ave., and a westbound left turn lane and one through lane on Walton St., according to the permit&#39;s description.</p><p>The construction appeared to have an effect on commuters exiting Lake Shore Drive, but was especially acute for CTA&rsquo;s express buses that exit the Drive from the North Side. Some of those routes include the #146, #147 and the #151 to name a few.</p><p>One commuter, Megan Abel, took to Twitter Tuesday morning with a post:</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>Who came up with the brilliant idea of starting construction at the peak of rush hour right at lake shore drive and michigan ave?</p>&mdash; Megan Abel (@legothatmego) <a href="https://twitter.com/legothatmego/status/341914231123357696">June 4, 2013</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>There were no commute warnings issued by Chicago Transit Authority and the Chicago Department of Transportation.</p><p>Spokespersons for the CTA and CDOT said they were looking into the construction, but were not able to reply back readily.</p><p>Also unavailable was a timetable for the construction. But according to the city&rsquo;s data portal site, the permit for the work was extended just yesterday to 6/21/13, with work hours being Monday - Friday only between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.</p></p> Tue, 04 Jun 2013 15:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/repair-work-caused-commuting-delays-lake-shore-drive-michigan-avenue-107532 Wells Street Bridge construction then and now http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/wells-street-bridge-construction-then-and-now-106017 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/then and now thumbnail.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="450" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/March/WellsBridge/WSB1973.html" width="610"></iframe></p><div class="”caption”"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Then: A Brown Line train rumbles over the Wells Street bridge in 1973, with the Merchandise Mart visible in the background. Now: The southern section of the bridge, now removed, rests on a floating barge. The northern section of the bridge will be replaced in April. (Collection of John R. Schmidt; WBEZ/Robin Amer)</em></span><br />&nbsp;</div><p>Harried Brown Line commuters returned to their normal routine today, as &ldquo;L&rdquo; service resumed between the Merchandise Mart and the Loop. Service was suspended last week, giving the city time to replace half of the aging Wells Street Bridge, which carries the Brown Line across the Chicago River. Still, it&rsquo;s a bit early to breathe a sigh of relief. In April the city will shut down the bridge again, in order to replace its northern half.</p><p>That lull should give you time to digest this incredible fact: The last time the city replaced the bridge in 1922, &ldquo;L&rdquo; service was suspended for just three days.</p><p>Backing up, the hulking burgundy section of bridge that workers shipped away on a barge this past week was not, in fact, the original Wells Street Bridge. That bridge &ndash; a floating one &ndash; was destroyed in a flood in 1849. Its replacement, a hand-operate wooden truss bridge, was incinerated by the Great Chicago Fire in 1871.</p><p>Wells Street got its first steel bridge the following year. It was a swing bridge, which was then replaced by a steam-powered swing bridge in 1888, which was then converted to run on electricity about a decade later. A second deck was added in 1896, giving the Wells Street Bridge its special burden: even today it&rsquo;s just one of two bridges that carries elevated trains across the Chicago River.</p><p>This built history is laid out in <a href="http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pnp/habshaer/il/il0600/il0617/data/il0617data.pdf">a 1999 engineering survey</a> conducted by preservationists at the National Park Service &ndash; who probably had no idea what commuting headaches they were foreshadowing when they wrote the following: &ldquo;Because traffic on the elevated lines could not be diverted without great expense, replacement of double-decked bridges presented the engineers with the difficult task of maintaining elevated service during construction.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="450" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/March/WellsBridge/WSB1928v2.html" width="610"></iframe></p><div class="”caption”"><span style="font-size:12px;"><em>Then: A train moves south across the Wells Street Bridge in 1928. It passes the clocktower of the Reid Murdoch Building, the 21-story Mather Tower, and the pagoda of the London Guarantee Building. Now: Pedestrians walk past the newly-installed southern half of the bridge. The Reid Murdoch clock tower, the tower of the River Hotel and Club Quarters at 75 E. Wacker Drive and the pagoda atop the Crain&rsquo;s Communications building at 360 N. Michigan Ave. are still visible in the background. (Collection of John R. Schmidt; WBEZ/Robin Amer)</em></span><br />&nbsp;</div><p>Sound familiar, Brown Line folks? The citizens of 1909 Chicago felt your pain: City engineers were faced with just such a task when the U.S. Department of War ordered Chicago to replace its swing bridges with ones that made river navigation easier that same year.</p><p>The city began with the bridge over Lake Street, and handed the reigns to Thomas G. Pihlfeldt.<br />The Norwegian-born engineer &ldquo;admitted that the problem of replacing the bridge initially had him stumped,&rdquo; according to the authors of the 1999 report. And here&rsquo;s why: &ldquo;In a twelve hour period, between seven in the morning and seven at night, 3,180 motorized vehicles, 1,000 elevated trains, 850 horse teams, and 7,000 pedestrians passed over the bridge.&rdquo;</p><p>Those numbers sound quaint now, but the solution Pihlfeldt came up with is impressive even by today&rsquo;s standards:</p><blockquote><p><em>Essentially, they left the existing swing bridge in place as long as possible, and built the new bascule around it, in a fully vertical, elevated position. In this manner, elevated service was maintained across the old swing bridge and through the raised trusses of the new bridge under construction. As the replacement project neared completion, the old swing was cut away, and the leaves of the new bridge were lowered to the closed position so work could begin on the decking. Construction of the upper decking and elevated rails suspended rail service for only one week, and the project was hailed as a great success.</em></p></blockquote><p>When plans began in 1916 to replace the Wells Street Bridge, &ldquo;Pihlfeldt merely reapplied the formula that had worked so well at Lake Street.&rdquo;</p><p>Of course, no one counted on World War I interrupting the city&rsquo;s construction plans &ndash; and draining its coffers. It was another five years before the city could afford to tackle Wells Street.</p><p>When the city finally did move to replace the bridge in December of 1921, it did so under what the engineering study authors called a &ldquo;tightly controlled construction process&rdquo;:</p><blockquote><p><em>At 7:00 p.m. Friday evening, the work crew closed the old bridge, and began to remove the elevated rails. Floodlights lit the construction site as darkness approached, and the flooring of the new bridge moved toward completion. Nearly round-the-clock work succeeded in cutting away the central portion of the swing bridge, installing new rails, removing approaches and adding new approaches in time to resume elevated service for the Monday morning rush hour.</em></p></blockquote><p>Catch that? Elevated train service was interrupted for just three days (although pedestrians, cars and other vehicles weren&rsquo;t allowed back on the bridge until February).</p><p style="text-align: center;"><object height="338" width="601"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632980393156%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632980393156%2F&amp;set_id=72157632980393156&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632980393156%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157632980393156%2F&amp;set_id=72157632980393156&amp;jump_to=" height="338" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="601"></embed></object></p><p style="text-align: center;"><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13.63636302947998px; line-height: 21.988636016845703px; text-align: center;">While playing the slideshow, push &quot;X&quot; for full screen. &quot;Show info&quot; displays captions.</em></p><p>Dan Burke, the Chicago Department of Transportation&rsquo;s Deputy Commissioner and Chief Engineer, said he and his colleagues were very impressed by the last renovation of the Wells Street Bridge.</p><p>&ldquo;What they did was ingenious. It was fantastic how they were able to build the new larger structure around the old one,&rdquo; Burke said. &ldquo;It set the bar pretty high.&rdquo;</p><p>Unfortunately, conditions near the river were quite different in 2013, making it impossible to take the same approach. &ldquo;The original swing bridge wasn&#39;t landlocked,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;You didn&rsquo;t have buildings abutting all four corners.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We found by taking a piece off, floating it away and installing the next piece, we were able to get it to a fairly tight closure window,&rdquo; Burke said.</p><p>In the 1940s, city engineers calculated the lifespan of a moveable Chicago bridge at about 40 or 50 years. The Wells Street Bridge was in service for nearly twice that, and it&rsquo;s hardly the only bridge that will need attention.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of those structures are going on 80, 90, 100 years old,&rdquo; Burke said. &ldquo;We currently have 40 movable bridges. . . to keep up with that pace you&rsquo;re trying to do at least one a year.&rdquo;</p><p>Luckily most of Chicago&rsquo;s other bridges will be less complicated to renovate. Because they don&rsquo;t carry &ldquo;L&rdquo; cars they can be shut down for longer periods of time. And because they&rsquo;re historic structures they&rsquo;ll likely be cared for in a more piecemeal way; Burke and his team can repair individual components rather than replace all the supporting trusses at once. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re iconic structures, and they&rsquo;re still very serviceable,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;In all likelihood we&rsquo;ll maintain them in perpetuity.&rdquo;</p><p>Next up, Burke has his eye on the bridges that cross LaSalle and Van Buren Streets. Here&rsquo;s wishing him and his team speedy construction.&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 11 Mar 2013 17:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/wells-street-bridge-construction-then-and-now-106017 Wells Street Bridge to be closed for a year http://www.wbez.org/news/wells-street-bridge-be-closed-year-103554 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/6679244655_22bfa7aaec_z.jpg" style="height: 459px; width: 620px; " title="(Flickr/Seth Anderson)" /></div><p>Starting Monday November 5, the Wells Street Bridge will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians for a year, as the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) works to reconstruct it.</p><p>CTA trains will still use the bridge, excluding &quot;two nine-day service interruptions next spring, when the CTA will also rebuild the Loop &lsquo;L&rsquo; junction at Lake and Wells Streets, known as Tower 18,&quot; <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdot/provdrs/bridge/news/2012/oct/wells_street_bridgetobereconstructed.html">said the City of Chicago</a>. These interruptions are scheduled for March and late April of 2013.</p><p>The historic parts of the bridge, including the railings and bridge houses, will be replaced but will remain period; the bridge was originally built in 1922. But all trusses and steel framing for the lower level road and upper level railway structures will be replaced, as will the mechnical and electrical parts.</p><p>Traffic will be rerouted to LaSalle and Clark Street bridges; the #11 and #125 buses will reroute to take Kinzie, LaSalle and Wacker, eventually routing ending back to Wells.</p><p>During the complete closure periods, on weekdays, Brown Line trains will either end at Merchandise Mart or keep going to the State Street subway. Bus shuttles will also be used.</p><p>According to CDOT, on the weekdays, almost 700 trains pass through the Tower 18 junction on a weekday, with almost 500 on the weekends. CTA President Forrest Claypool said the work on Tower 18 was originally scheduled to take place during the continued Loop Track renewal project, but combining it with the Wells Bridge repairs will save the city $500,000 in construction costs.</p></p> Wed, 31 Oct 2012 11:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/wells-street-bridge-be-closed-year-103554 North Side Red Line could see similar major construction http://www.wbez.org/news/north-side-red-line-could-see-similar-major-construction-99828 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/redline-belmont.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The president of the Chicago Transit Authority says the North Side of the Red Line is next.</p><p>Earlier this week, Forrest Claypool announced the South Side portion of the Red Line will be completely shut down for five months next year for reconstruction.&nbsp;But Claypool says a similar project is in the works for North Side Red Line riders as well.</p><p>&quot;I got news for people,&quot; Claypool <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift-steve-edwards/2012-06-05/forrest-claypool-red-line-south-closure-plan-99825">said Tuesday on WBEZ&#39;s <em>Afternoon Shift</em></a>. &quot;The north Red Line has to be rebuilt as well. And we&#39;re not that many years away from that happening.&quot;</p><p>Claypool said he would not want to completely shut down the North Side Red Line.</p><p>He said the Red Line is longer on the North Side than on the South Side and construction would likely be staggered, rather than have the entire stretch closed at one time.</p><p>&quot;There clearly will be disruptions at that time, but at the end of the day years from now, assuming we get the proper federal support for that project, you will have literally a brand new railroad from the far northern suburbs to the very southern portions of the City of Chicago,&quot; he said.</p></p> Tue, 05 Jun 2012 16:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/north-side-red-line-could-see-similar-major-construction-99828 New escape routes for Lake Shore Drive http://www.wbez.org/story/new-escape-routes-lake-shore-drive-93621 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-31/AP Photo Kiichiro Sato_ Charles Rex Arbogast.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Road crews begin work Monday on Lake Shore Drive to make it easier for cars to avoid getting stuck during a blizzard. City workers will begin building two turnaround points after rush hour.</p><p>Both escape routes are on the near North Side - one will be at Armitage; the other at Schiller. Chicago Department of Transportation officials say those spots were chosen because they're prone to snow drifts.</p><p>They will create turnaround access to north and southbound lanes during emergency situations, like last February's 20 inches of snow blizzard. Drivers and vehicles were stranded on the Drive for hours.</p><p>Three lanes in both directions will remain open around the construction zone. The new turnarounds are expected to be completed by late November.<br> <br> &nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 31 Oct 2011 12:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/new-escape-routes-lake-shore-drive-93621 New housing starts hit 3-month low http://www.wbez.org/story/new-housing-starts-hit-3-month-low-92205 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-20/RS333_AP01043002123-housing Matt York-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Builders broke ground on fewer homes in August, evidence that the housing market remains depressed.</p><p>The Commerce Department said Tuesday that builders began work on a seasonally adjusted 571,000 homes last month, a 5 percent decline from July and a three-month low. That's less than half the 1.2 million that economists say is consistent with healthy housing markets.</p><p>Single-family homes, which represent roughly two-thirds of home construction, fell 1.4 percent. Apartment building plunged 12.4 percent.</p><p>Hurricane Irene slowed construction in the Northeast, analysts said.</p><p>Building permits, a gauge of future construction, rose 3.2 percent. Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, said the increase was an "encouraging morsel" in an otherwise disappointing report.</p><p>Home construction is down nearly 6 percent over the past year. But permits are up nearly 8 percent. That suggests builders aren't working on new homes, but may be preparing to start dormant projects when the economy improves.</p><p>Builders typically begin construction on single-family homes six months after getting a permit. With apartment projects, the lag time can be up to a year.</p><p>Construction fell to its lowest levels in 50 years in 2009, when builders began work on just 554,000 homes. Last year was not much better and this year is shaping up to be just bad.</p><p>While home construction represents a small portion of the housing market, it has an outsize impact on the economy. Each home built creates an average of three jobs for a year and about $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.</p><p>After previous recessions, housing accounted for at least 15 percent of economic growth in the United States. Since the recession officially ended in June 2009, it has contributed just 4 percent.</p><p>Pierre Ellis, an economist at Decision Economics, said a "major revival" in home construction would be needed before there is any "discernible impact" on the economy.</p><p>Cash-strapped builders are struggling to compete with deeply discounted foreclosures and short sales, when lenders allow borrowers to sell homes for less than what is owed on their mortgages. And few homes are selling.</p><p>New-home sales fell in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 298,000, the weakest pace in five months. This year is shaping up to be the worst for sales on records dating back a half-century.</p><p>Renting has become a preferred option for many Americans who lost their jobs during the recession and were forced to leave their homes. Still, the surge in apartments has not been enough to offset the loss of single-family homebuilding.</p><p>Another reason sales have fallen is that previously occupied homes are a better deal than new homes. The median price of a new home is nearly 28 percent higher than the median price for a re-sale. That's almost twice the markup in a healthy housing market.</p><p>The trade group said Monday that its survey of industry sentiment fell slightly to 14 in September. The index has been below 20 for all but one month during the past two years. Any reading below 50 indicates negative sentiment about the housing market. The index hasn't reached 50 since April 2006, the peak of the housing boom.</p></p> Tue, 20 Sep 2011 13:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/new-housing-starts-hit-3-month-low-92205 Jackson pushes Obama to focus on construction http://www.wbez.org/story/jackson-pushes-obama-focus-construction-91531 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-05/Jesse Jackson.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>As President Obama gears up for a Thursday speech before Congress about his jobs agenda, a civil rights leader in his hometown is urging him to focus on proposing massive investment in construction projects.</p><p>With official unemployment hovering above 9 percent, the president is expected to propose training for the long-term jobless, tax credits for companies that hire new workers and an extension of payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits.</p><p>Rev. Jesse Jackson said those steps won’t be enough. “You put people back to work fixing our infrastructure, our houses and our transportation,” he said. “We work our way out of the hole. We don’t complain our way out. [President Obama] has the key to, in fact, invest in a mammoth way in putting America back to work.”</p><p>In a Monday speech to Detroit union activists, the president did bring up infrastructure. But Republicans, who control the U.S. House, are indicating they will try to block new outlays that would add to the budget deficit.</p></p> Tue, 06 Sep 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/jackson-pushes-obama-focus-construction-91531 Supreme Court rules on $31 billion capital bill http://www.wbez.org/story/supreme-court-rules-31-billion-capital-bill-88954 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-11/AP110516035695.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at 11:58 a.m. </em></p><p>Illinois' Supreme Court has ruled that a statewide construction program is constitutional. This reverses an appellate court ruling that threw the $31 billion-plan into doubt.</p><p>The appeals court's decision in January no doubt caused stress headaches for the governor, lawmakers and everyone with a job dependent on the construction plan. That court found that the bill violated a clause of the state Constitution that requires legislation be "confined to one subject."</p><p>But in the state Supreme Court's much anticipated final word on the legislation, all seven justices sided with Gov. Pat Quinn and the bipartisan leadership in the legislature, which endorsed the plan.</p><p>Justice Anne Burke wrote that "capital projects" - including those for roads, schools and bridges - is a "legitimate single subject." She wrote that the rest of the bill - including new taxes and expanded video gambling to pay for the projects - have a "natural and logical connection to that subject."</p><p>The suit was brought by Rocky Wirtz, owner of the Chicago Blackhawks and a liquor distribution company. Wirtz objected to the new taxes on liquor used to finance the construction projects, many of which are already in progress.</p></p> Mon, 11 Jul 2011 13:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/supreme-court-rules-31-billion-capital-bill-88954