Lake Shore Drive Section Reopens After Bridge Fix

Nancy Harty
February 12, 2019 - 1:18 pm

picture: Dan Frank

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — The northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive near the Chicago River reopened ahead of Tuesday’s afternoon rush hour a day after cracks were discovered in support beams.

Crews worked around the clock to install four steel supports under the viaduct near Randolph. 

City Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld calls the repairs "a Herculean effort through extremely harsh weather conditions overnight.”

She said the support towers can hold three times the required load and allowed crews to raise the road six inches.

Department officials believe two beams cracked due to the recent extreme cold, which caused expansion joints in the bridge to contract.

CDOT is continuing to review the bridge and the few others with similar designs. 

Scheinfeld said the city has placed orders for permanent replacement pieces and expects to do repairs over the next several weeks.

Talking to reporters near the site after the lanes reopened at 1:20 p.m., she stressed the road is safe to drive on.

Lake Shore Drive carries 60,000 cars each direction daily, the city says.

It’s not clear what caused the crack.

The Chicago Department of Transportation initially diverted all northbound traffic on Lake Shore Drivebetween Monroe and Grand on Monday. Traffic was being detoured via Randolph, Monroe, Columbus and Lower Wacker, CDOT said. Southbound traffic is not affected.

It was first reported that the closure would last until at least Tuesday evening, and that permanent repairs would take even longer; but the city was able to reopen the bridge Tuesday afternoon ahead of the evening rush.

Further details about the status of ongoing repair work were not immediately available.