Northbound Lake Shore Drive Near Chicago River Reopens | WBEZ
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Northbound Lake Shore Drive Near Chicago River Reopens

Updated Feb. 12 at 5:00 p.m.

The northbound lanes of Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive reopened Tuesday afternoon after they were closed to traffic due to a structural problem with a roadway leading to the LSD Bridge over the Chicago River.

The lanes were reopened to northbound traffic around 1:20 p.m. Tuesday, according to the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications. 

The city estimates about 120,000 vehicles pass over that area every day with half in the northbound lanes of LSD. 

“We are pleased to report that thanks to a Herculean effort through the extremely harsh conditions out here last night, we are going to be able to reopen northbound Lake Shore Drive within the hour, as we had hoped, before the PM rush,” Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said Tuesday afternoon. 

Scheinfeld said the work involved installing four steel structural support towers underneath the roadway. 

Each tower, Scheinfeld said, can support more than 300,000 pounds of pressure. 

“Once those were securely in place, we were able to jack up the roadway by about six inches to eliminate the dip that was caused,” Scheinfeld said. “Hats off to the team of City workers and our contractors who stepped in yesterday on a moments notice and did an amazing about of hard work in a little over 24 hours time.”

Scheinfeld said the department is now working on a permanent repair to the steel girders that caused the problem. 

“We think this was caused by the combination of corrosion coupled with the extreme temperature swings,” Scheinfeld said. “We’ve done a full inspection of the structure to determine if there are any other trouble spots and we will be closely looking at the structure while we are working on the permanent repairs. This work will be done over the next few weeks. Again, our number one priority is always the safety of the public and our workers.” 

The lanes had been closed since Monday morning after a CDOT work crew discovered two cracked steel beams that support the roadway to the bridge, which is located just south of the Chicago River. No injuries or damage to vehicles were reported.

The ramp where the damage was spotted was constructed in 1986 and last inspected in 2017. It was due for another inspection in June, according to the city. 

Scheinfeld said the section was “found to be in fair condition” in its last inspection. She speculated the recent subzero cold snap may have played a role in the the beams getting damaged. 

“We expect the recent cold weather fluctuations and extreme cold that causes the steel to contract may have exacerbated in corrosion there,” Scheinfeld said. 

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says CDOT is searching for other problem areas around the city. 

“Department of Transportation will be doing spot checks at other sites of similar type of structures,” Emanuel said Tuesday. 

Emanuel used the LSD issue as a call for more money from Springfield for infrastructure needs. 

“The bridge is a wakeup call,” Emanuel said. “I have been clear about the need for a transportation bill.”

WBEZ intern Blair Paddock contributed to this report.

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