BRIDGES: Chicago’s famous Lake Shore Drive full of crumbling bridges

Chunk of concrete from North Avenue Bridge falls during evening rush

September 05, 2013

Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive has breathtaking views of one of the largest bodies of water in the Midwest, but there is also the ugly.

On Sept. 4, a 3- to 4-in. chunk of concrete from the belly of the North Avenue Bridge came crashing down onto the famous stretch of road during the evening rush hour. No damage to vehicles was reported, but traffic came to a standstill as crews chipped away at loose concrete and cleaned the area.

According to Chicago’s ABC 7 News, an Illinois Department of Transportation report in 2012 listed the span as “intolerable” and said repairs needed to be made immediately. ABC 7 also found another bridge in poor condition not far from the North Avenue structure on Lake Shore Drive. The IDOT analysis noted “advanced deterioration” on a bridge at Wilson Street, where netting is in place to catch falling concrete. Another span at Lawrence Avenue is in serious condition with “significant section loss.”

A long-term renovation plan for Lake Shore Drive could be in the works, but full replacement of any of the bridges is a full decade away. The Chicago DOT said if it found any of the spans to be unsafe it would close them immediately.

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