Transportation officials in the city of Chicago have shut down the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive at the bridge over the Chicago River due to what is being referred to as a structural emergency.
Crews first spotted cracks in the support beams of the structure around 10 a.m. Monday beneath northbound Lake Shore Drive just south of the Chicago River, forcing crews to shut down northbound traffic between Jackson and Grand in the city. At least two cracked steel beams were noticed when crews reported the problem. Local reports indicated the shutdown turned Monday's evening commute into gridlock.
Chicago DOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld told ABC 7 News that the cracking found in the structure was possibly caused by corrosion combined with extreme temperature swings due to recent weather in the city.
City crews are continuing to work on a portion of Lake Shore Drive that is expected to remain closed into Tuesday night's commute, possibly longer. The Chicago DOT told CBS News that crews were working to install a shoring tower under the bridge as soon as possible as a temporary fix. More permanent repairs could take several weeks.
Local reports say the structure was last inspected in June 2017 and found to be in fair or satisfactory condition, though inspectors had found some minor cracks and deterioration. The bridge is due for reinspection in June of this year.
UPDATE (Tuesday, 2/12/19 at 2 p.m. CST): All lanes of northbound Lake Shore Drive reopened Tuesday afternoon, a day after a portion of the road was closed due to cracks in the bridge's support beam. At a press conference, the Chicago DOT made assurances that they have determined the roadway is safe to be open to the traveling public at this time after conducting a full inspection of the structures along Lake Shore Drive. The department said more thorough testing will continue through the week, and that permanent repairs to the structure should be completed over the next several weeks.
Source: ABC 7 Chicago / CBS 2 Chicago