Monday, April 14, 2008

Look Out Below! Bridges Of Uptown Photo Series

Come with us on a journey, won't you? Deep into the heart of Uptown Country. You could go to Iowa to see the Bridges of Madison County, but why do that when can stay at home and check out our own? Just be sure to bring your hard-hat to protect you from crumbling concrete.
First up is the Wilson Avenue bridge at Lake Shore Drive. This bridge is long overdue for replacement. In the photo above, you can barely see temporary concrete barriers that have been added to both Wilson and Lawrence to keep cars from crashing through the side of the bridge and onto the traffic under the bridge below in the event of an accident.
Once under the Wilson Bridge, this is what you see:
Scary, huh? But trust us, it gets worse. How much traffic passes over these bridges in a day? There are quite a few of these "buttresses" under the bridge that look like this. The temporary white paint job that was given to the bridges last year has already started to crumble, rust, and fall off in most spots. Water is cascading down onto the streets below through the cracks in the cement and rebar above. A bad combination for sure. Let's journey a few blocks north to Lawrence now and see if this bridge is in any better condition.
Judging from the photo above, no such luck. The temporary concrete barriers on the Lawrence Avenue bridge are visible in this pic, protecting the decaying sides of the bridge from car impacts. Let's venture a bit closer and check it out.
Yikes! That pillar has seen better days. Let's go under the bridge and see if the buttresses are in any better shape.
Wow, this looks worse than Wilson! We can see water pouring down from Lake Shore Drive above all over here. We sure hope we are nowhere near this bridge when it decides it can't take anymore. While we were out, we thought we would check out the Foster Avenue Bridge and the Belmont Avenue bridge. We can report that they were nowhere NEAR the state of decay that these two bridges are in. If you plan to attend the Lawrence/Wilson Viaduct Meeting on April 28 at 6pm at Truman College, we hope you will ask those from CDOT if these bridges will be replaced or if there will be another sort of temporary fix for these bridges that involves tar and something to plug the holes in the bridge to keep the water from cascading below. Inquiring minds would like to know. We hope you enjoyed our tour. If you are out and about, we encourage you to check out the condition of these bridges and compare them to neighboring bridges over Lake Shore Drive.


  1. Very clever! Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before someone did a spoof like this. If these were privately owned structures, the owners would have had to do the costly repairs long ago---or else.

    Let's hope that some good plans are in the works and that they will be revealed to the public at the meeting.

  2. Has anyone ever wondered why the walkways under these bridges were so wide? It seems to just be asking for homeless to camp out here. I've never noticed other bridges with such wide walkways.

  3. The walkways need to be somewhat wide for people to passby to the other side to go to the lake. You wouldn't want the walkways to be too narrow with all the folks that visit the lake during the summer. Unfortunately, in Uptown they are used as homeless shelters, although nowhere near as popular as they used to be.

    The problem with the crubling concrete is that the re-bar (the metal within) is exposed to salt and water which leads to corrosion and ultimate weakening of the structure.

    I agree with Saskia - if they were privately owned structures, the owner would have been forced to repair them a long time ago. Does it take a disaster for the gov't to notice this?

  4. to anony3:18 PM

    I am pretty sure Helen had them designed especially for that I think I remember someone telling me that.


  5. Did they put the white paint over ... TAR?

    Gee, funny how that happened right before an aldermanic election.

  6. Odd that they even wasted their time painting those bridges last year given the state they were in. You really can't just paint over a future lawsuit and pretend it's not there. Let's go take some pictures of the tourist pass throughs by Michigan ave.

  7. "Does it take a disaster for the gov't to notice this?"

    Yes. Yes it does.

    And don't let anyone fool you, the responsibility for maintenance lays squarely on the shoulder of local politicians.

    Helen should be ashamed of herself for the condition of these viaducts and the imminent danger posed to motorists and pedestrians, alike.

    That is, of course, if she were capable of shame.

    But she's not, hence, crappy viaducts.

    Keep up the good work, sweet cheeks.

  8. This is clever.

    I am amused.

    I am bemused.

    I shouldn't be.

    Welcome to Chicago. Home to crumbling infrastructure and politicians who talk about changing da city motto.

  9. Makes you wonder how this City and State can privately finance $80 million to run a Presidential candidate, $500 million to build Millineum Park, and $80 million to just bid on the Olympics but can't put the nickles together to fix two bridges ready for collapse.

    I guess all the lobbyists are busy getting the boys their toys.

  10. This is why I continue reading Uptownupdate - Great info!!


  11. Don't forget about the rest of the crumbling roads, sewers and more! I wonder how much money the city wants to chip in for that museum downtown...

    We should hope and pray we get the olympics because that's the only way anything will happen (sans disasters). Money will flow in from all around. How can you have the olympics and a crumbling transit system?

  12. Well, for starters, just spray paint the bridge like they did a few months before the last election. Daley and Shiller counted on people being too stupid to notice.

  13. "We should hope and pray we get the olympics because that's the only way anything will happen ... "

    that idea really bugs me every time I hear it, getting our City ready for the athletes

    I'm here every day, I think Daley should fix up Chicago for me

  14. Isn't IDOT responsible for the maintenance of Lake Shore Drive and its bridges since it's a US Highway? I agree that the bridges are in terrible shape, but I don't know if you can blame Helen for that.

  15. Maybe not, ainslie, but local politicians can get loud & angry and agitate! I think Helen Shiller knows how to do that. Why is it that she plays the good girl with the bigtime politicians while she pushes around her neighbors and constituents?

    Maybe she has done some agitating behind the scenes. I certainly hope so.

  16. When did our elected politicians so lose contact with the people and communities they should be listened to and represent?

    What happened to decent politicians who did their job?

  17. I watched the city council meeting last week. What a sham(e). It was disgusting to watch the alderman in action.
    They spent most of time saying goodbye to that Tribune reporter, over an hour, then walked out of chambers while Burke rattled off the amended changes, including sock-it-to-the Wilson Yard taxpayers a cool $52 million for Shillverville housing.

    I can't believe every citizen isn't up in arms about how lousy city government has become.

  18. Yes, this used to be a working man's town where real people could afford to live. Now Daley has gone upscale from his Bridgeport roots and want all of us to pay for it.

    Most people in this city don't want and can never access the grand scale tourist attractions Daley wants as his legacy - even thoug those people are being driven out of the city with tax hikes to pay for them.

  19. Why do you suppose the Uptown bridges are crumbling while those to the North and South are fine? It's not like Lake Shore Drive and all these bridges weren't put in around the same time.

    Is this the cummulative effect of years of neglect toward Uptown infrastructure? So, if you ignore it long enough it just deteriorates until the metal internal structure suffers so much damage that it becomes ready to fall down?

  20. We can't blame Helen for the lousy condition of the bridges, but I do notice that the bridges in the other wards often tend to be in better shape. Maybe it's just a coincidence.


  21. We may not be able to blame Helen for the natural order of things; in this case, entropy; but, we sure as shootin' can blame her for allowing such entropy to go unattended.

    It's her job to ensure that the public throughways are maintained and safe.

    These bridges are neither, obviously.

    Granted, she cannot fix them herself, and even if the buck stops in Springfield for getting these fixed, it's beholden upon her to notice the condition of bridges in her ward and take the necessary steps to rectify.

    If she can have them painted, she can have them repaired.

    So, in actuality, we CAN blame her for the condition of the bridges.

  22. this is what you get when the democrats are in power in the city, county, congress - nothing
    it's time for citizens to wake and reject the status quo

  23. This is what you get when you have one of the longest tenured alderman in the city and she has absolutely no clout to show for her years. What you been doing, woman?