Saturday, June 3, 2017

Help Is On The Way: Bids Requested To Repair Structurally Deficient Lawrence & Wilson Bridges

What the roadway lights on top
of the bridges will look like
It's finally happening! Nine and a half years after Uptown Update did its first post (but hardly its last) about the crumbling Lake Shore Drive underpasses at Wilson and Lawrence, the official requests for proposals to do the repair work have gone out to bid.

Contractors have until July 6th to turn in their bids for the task of repairing and rehabbing the bridges. We hope that means work will be able to get underway by late summer.

There are no pretty renderings to show what the bridges will look like after completion, and we don't have a lot of experience reading architectural specifications. While a prettier appearance would be a good thing (and let's face it, it would be difficult to make the bridges any more unattractive), the most crucial part is safety for everyone who goes under or over these dilapidated bridges. We hope to never have to post again that a 15' chunk of concrete has fallen onto the sidewalks or driving lanes.

structural defects mapped on the underside of the Wilson bridge
We can tell from the architectural drawings accompanying the RFPs that each and every crack and flaw in the bridges has been documented and rated on a scale between "1" and "8" depending on the severity of the damage. We can't even imagine how tedious that was to put together. But it was necessary to assess just how dangerous these bridges are.

Dedicated pedestrian and bike lanes under the Wilson bridge
The rehabbed bridges will have ornamental iron fences separating the sidewalks from the driving lanes. There will be dedicated, separate lanes for pedestrians and for bike traffic.

A friend who is an avid cyclist points out another safety hazard caused by the current design of the bridges: There is no safe way for bikes to get from Uptown to the Lakefront Path. This problem will be solved by the revamped design.

The next step in the process is the bids being opened and read on July 6th. We don't know how long it takes for a contractor to be awarded the contract(s), and how long after that the work will begin. But this is the closest we've been to real progress happening.

This isn't a band-aid like painting the bridges white prior to an aldermanic election, or putting up support pillars in the median to strengthen the roadway above. This is a sign that actual structural dangers are being addressed. Finally.

The next time a list of Illinois' most heavily traveled structurally deficient bridges is announced, let's aspire to Uptown not being included on it.


  1. So what will happen to all the people living under those bridges while they are being repaired. I'm hoping there is a plan for them as well, bu given how these things work I sadly feel that there isn't o that they won't announce it until it just...happens.

    1. I highly recommend that you submit your plan to the alderman's office. In fact, post it publicly. We'd all love to see.

  2. It sounds like the sidewalks are being narrowed for bike traffic and no room for people who are homeless to survive. Bikes before people :(

    1. You mean like literally anywhere else that isn't the sidewalk? On the grass perhaps? In a shelter? Somewhere with less foot traffic to piss and shoot up? Same thing as the above poster, submit your proposal here for assessment. But if your proposal is to keep wide sidewalks so a tent city bivouac can persist there, don't bother.

  3. Golly gosh...sorry that the sidewalks aren't being designed to accommodate a homeless encampment, but that isn't the purpose of sidewalks to begin with. Especially sidewalks that are the only means for much of Uptown to get to our Lincoln Park front yard. Neither are streets. But if the hand-wringers are so concerned about the "right" of people with "no fixed address" to camp out in the public way, perhaps they can talk with the Alderman about closing the street in front of their homes so the displaced homeless can camp out at their very own front doors. Don't like that idea? Then open up your back yard...or a room in your basement.

    The problem is that there is a revolving door...portions of our population make it convenient to camp out on our sidewalks, so when some of the campers leave, they get replaced with new ones who like the convenience. We have to draw the line, or we will never be able to use our sidewalks for the purpose they were built. And if you don't like that inevitable conclusion, then get off your behind and put your own money where your mouth is to fix the homeless problem.