It will be enormous and something the South Side has never seen.
Work has begun on what will be the biggest bridge on Lake Shore Drive so far. Less than one year after the eye-catching suspension bridge opened in Bronzeville, city officials held a ground breaking for a structure that will be even bigger.
Community leaders Mayor Rahm Emanuel this week joined Alderman Sophia King (4th) and members of the Bronzeville community to break ground on a new pedestrian and bike bridge at 41st Street over South Lake Shore Drive. The construction project will be managed by the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and create about 140 jobs. When complete, the 41st Street Bridge will increase lakefront access on the South Side and be fully ADA accessible, with ramps to accommodate bicycles, wheel chairs and emergency vehicles.
“From the new Ellis Park Arts and Recreation Center to the new Mariano’s grocery store, the future of Bronzeville is bright,” Emanuel said in a statement. “The new bridge will connect Bronzeville residents to our lakefront and builds on the great momentum of investments throughout the community.”
Increasing access to the lakefront is a key component of Building on Burnham, Mayor Emanuel’s comprehensive plan to invest in the Lakefront, the Chicago River, natural areas and recreational opportunities in neighborhoods across the city.
The project is supported by an $18.76 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, a key source of federal funding for innovative transportation projects that is slated for elimination in the proposed federal budget. Additional funding comes from other federal and state sources. The prime contractor is FH Paschen.
The new pedestrian and bike bridge is the second of five bridge projects announced by Mayor Emanuel to improve access to the lakefront on the city’s South Side. A replacement pedestrian bridge at 35th Street opened in 2016. Construction of a new vehicular bridge over the railroad tracks at Oakwood Boulevard/39th Street is scheduled to start by the end of the year. CDOT is completing engineering plans for the replacement of the deteriorating, non-ADA compliant pedestrian bridge at 43rd Street. Engineering is also being finalized on a project to replace the bridge over the railroad tracks at 31st Street.
“Today’s groundbreaking of yet another magnificent pedestrian bridge at 41st Street, underscores the significant strides we are making to ensure all residents have access to the lakefront,” Alderman Sophia King (4th) said. “Similar to the recently opened pedestrian bridge at 35th Street, also located in the 4th Ward, this bridge is an investment in our community stimulating job growth and recreational opportunities.”
The new bridges at 41st and 43rd streets are designed by AECOM with Cordogan, Clark & Associates. The inclined arch mono-truss structures are each about 1,470 feet long and will each support large, graceful S-curves that echo the curves of the walkways in Burnham Park.
“CDOT is excited to break ground today and get started on construction of 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 strollers,” 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.”