Thursday, February 16, 2017

Two Uptown Bridges Rated Among "Top Ten Most Structurally Deficient" In Illinois

The Lake Shore Drive overpasses at both Wilson Avenue and Lawrence Avenue are included in a list of the ten most structurally deficient bridges in the state, based on the amount of traffic they handle. Super!

Built in 1933, they are the oldest spans on the list, which includes four other overpasses in Cook County, two in DuPage County, and one each in Will and St. Clair Counties.

This is no surprise to anyone. According to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, which compiled the list, both bridges were found to be "Structurally Deficient" in 2015 and 2014 as well as 2016. The Illinois Public Interest Research Group held a press conference at the Wilson overpass in 2011, declaring it to be structurally deficient at that time.

Then of course, there were the heavy chunks of concrete that came raining down on the sidewalk and street beneath the Lawrence overpass in the summer of 2015, one of them 15 feet long. If anyone had been walking or driving there at the time, they wouldn't have had a chance of survival.

Uptown Update has posted about this situation many times, beginning in 2008. You can see the chronology of the decaying overpasses here.  In the nearly ten years that Uptown Update has been in existence, we've seen it happen over and over -- the powers that be acknowledge that the bridges are dangerous, and nothing gets done to make them any better.

Braces were installed in 2008 to help keep the
Lawrence bridge from collapsing
Because Lake Shore Drive is part of U.S. Highway 41, the responsibility for the bridges' upkeep belongs to the state government.

Illinois hasn't had a state budget in two years, and has a backlog of bills that totals over $11 billion. While the bottleneck causes social services to turn people away and cut staff, the state's infrastructure, including these two 80-year-old overpasses, continues to deteriorate.

In 2014, Ald. Cappleman wrote, "The work for these underpasses will need to last until the State of Illinois has sufficient funds to do the major overhaul of the bridges, which could be ten more years."

We said it then and we'll repeat it now: The band-aids aren't working anymore. Those overpasses don't have another ten years left in them, according to experts in the field. Someone is going to die if the state doesn't come up with money to fix them, and soon.


  1. For the safety of the inhabitants, it would make sense to clear out the tent cities under the two viaducts. This sounds like an accident waiting to happen.

  2. Yes, and what wonderful viaducts for the homeless activists to place both the Wilson and Lawrence Avenue tent cities!

    If the city and state choose to let them dwell there knowing of the hazard, the tent city dwellers will have the right to sue the government (us taxpayers) for their injuries. That is exactly what happened several years ago when the city allowed homeless campers to live on the Lawrence Avenue bridge wing wall and park area. A car spun off LSD, ran over them and their families sued. It was foreseeable that a car might run off the road, it was foreseeable that a person living on the shoulder of the road might get seriously injured or killed by such a car, the city and state have zoning laws that provide housing/ living space set back laws to protect citizens, those laws are on the books but were not being enforced to the detriment of the citizens those laws exist to protect. Thus, the city / state were negligent in not enforcing their laws to protect those homeless and liable for their injuries/death.

  3. BTW, do you see that crappy white paint job? Those bridges used to be unpainted grey concrete. One day, just before the aldermanic election, a crew of painters showed up and started whitewashing it. I stopped and asked why they were doing that because it was around that same time that one side had collapsed onto the ground. The city paint crew told me that they had been pulled off a South side project and told to get up here and paint the bridge as quickly as possible to "whitewash the problem" and make sure that it did not become a bigger issue in Helen Shiller's re-election campaign. They knew, even then, that the paint job would peel off that concrete and were complaining about what a waste of time it was. That was after Jerry Joyce and the Mayor cut the deal with Helen Shiller to "save her" from block club opposition. They used the Mayor's I&I and CAPS staff assigned to the Uptown area to undermine the block clubs they supposedly were sent to assist. They used the membership lists and contacts to split the vote and keep Helen in office. In exchange, Shiller had to agree to become the Mayor's puppet while maintaining her image of a real opposition leader. That way, the Mayor could maintain the image of having opposition while preventing any real independent uncontrolled candidate from taking over Uptown. Joyce and Daley did exactly the same thing several years earlier with Dorothy Tillman. Both of these phony balony " independent opposition leaders" were willing to toss their constituencies and principles to save their own political butts.

  4. "Uptown girl" - I see you know your Chicago political history. Jerry Joyce of the good ole 19th ward! Who remembers him?? Good work.
    You might want to write down some of your recollections - good reading!

  5. Camp in a repeatedly declared danger zone, hope to survive the dropping concrete, sue the city/state and collect $$$, who's the genius now.....

  6. I would have to assume, and believe the argument in court, that this is now and again public knowledge and that the illegal denizens under the bridges are now advised that they are in a dangerous situation-theta their willingness to stay there should there be an accident is now of their own free will. Therefore the city would not need to pay any wrongful death payments to their families. Nor would the state as this is illegal activity. So, I would then safely assume that anyone who continues to support their living, pooping, selling drugs under the said bridges is only accepting an imminent accident and potential demise? Its sad that these lives are being sacrificed for someone else's glory.

  7. I see that there is now a tent on pallets on the Park District land. It is in the viaduct that runs from the Lawrence/Wilson Parking lot to the soccer fields.