City leaders and members of the Bronzeville community recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new 41st Street Pedestrian Bridge over South Lake Shore Drive and the railroad tracks. The new, S-shaped, 1,470- foot-long span, constructed by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) for the Chicago Park District, will improve lakefront access on the South Side. It is fully ADA accessible, with ramps to accommodate bicycles, wheel chairs and emergency vehicles.
“For far too long, residents of this community could see the lakefront, but they couldn’t easily reach it,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This new bridge connects Bronzeville residents to our lakefront and the new 41st Street Beach and it builds on the great energy we are seeing thanks to the investments that we have made in this community.”
Increasing access to the lakefront is a key goal of Building on Burnham, Mayor Emanuel’s comprehensive plan to invest in the Lakefront, the Chicago River and natural areas in neighborhoods throughout the City.
The 41st Street project is the second of five bridge projects announced by Mayor Emanuel to improve access to the lakefront on the city’s South Side. A striking new suspension bridge for pedestrians and bikes at 35th Street opened in November 2016. It replaced an outmoded, non-ADA accessible pedestrian bridge.
A third project, starting next year, will replace the existing deteriorated and non-ADA compliant pedestrian bridge at 43rd Street. It features a similar design as the new 41st Street Bridge. Both spans are designed by AECOM with Cordogan, Clark & Associates. The inclined arch mono-truss structures support large, graceful S-curves that echo the curves of the walkways in Burnham Park.
“Today’s opening of a second beautiful, modern pedestrian bridge in the 4th Ward, underscores the significant strides we are making to ensure all residents have convenient and ADA-compliant access to the lakefront,” Alderman Sophia King said. “Similar to the recently opened pedestrian bridge at 35th Street, this bridge is an investment in our community stimulating job growth and recreational opportunities.”
In addition, a vehicular bridge over the railroad tracks at Oakwood Boul- evard/39th Street is currently under reconstruction and scheduled for completion in mid-2019. Plans are being finalized for a fifth project to replace the bridge over the railroad tracks at 31st Street, scheduled to begin next year.
“The 41st Street Pedestrian and Bike Bridge is another example of the City of Chicago, State of Illinois and Federal Government working together with leadership from Mayor Rahm Emanuel to make something good happen for the City of Chicago,” U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis said.
“I was proud to support the federal TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation that helped provide the funding for the 41st Street pedestrian and bike bridge,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said. “This is another good example of investment in community infrastructure projects and I thank Mayor Emanuel for his partnership and leadership in these efforts.”
“Investing in our infrastructure creates jobs, drives economic growth and makes Chicago an even better place to call home,” U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said. “I’m glad to see this new pedestrian bridge will be fully accessible for people with disabilities, and I’ll continue working to secure federal resources for projects like these that modernize our transportation infrastructure throughout the state.”
The $33 million 41st Street project was supported by an $18.76 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Additional funding comes from other federal and state sources. The prime contractor is FH Paschen and the construction manager was Transystems.
“CDOT is thrilled to cut the ribbon for this new bridge that will greatly improve access to Chicago’s lakefront for people of all ages and levels of mobility, whether they are walking, biking, in wheelchairs or pushing stroll-
ers,” CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said. “We’d like to thank our federal and state partners for supporting this project and our larger goal of Building a New Chicago for the 21st Century.”
The bridge design was developed in coordination with the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). It will directly connect Lake Park Crescent, 348 new units of mixed-income housing created through CHA’s Plan for Trans-
formation, and its neighboring park with the Oakwood/41st Street Beach, recently created as part of the Lake Michigan shoreline revetment reconstruction.
“Chicago’s lakefront is among our city’s most valuable gems,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent Mike Kelly. “For generations, the residents of Bronzeville who live a stone’s throw away from the lake, did not have direct access. The completion of the 41st Street Bridge connects the children and families of this neighborhood to the lake, encourages walking, biking and other physical activity and strengthens the community.”