After multiple delays, the City of Chicago is set to move forward with the construction of a new pedestrian bridge over lake shore drive. The 41st Street bridge would connect the Oakland and Bronzeville neighborhoods to the lake over multiple railroad tracks and eight lanes of high-speed traffic.
The 41st Street bridge will be fully ADA accessible and able to handle both pedestrians and bicyclists. (Chicago Department of Transportation)
The project, which was initially announced to begin last fall, is part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to build multiple Lake Shore Drive pedestrian crossings on the city’s South Side. The new bridge will join a recently completed suspension bridge at 35th Street. In the original announcement of the bridge, a second “twin” bridge was also announced for 43rd street. Aurora, Illinois–based Cordogan, Clark & Associates is responsible for the design of both bridges; the firm’s proposal won the “Bridge the Drive” competition in 2004. The bridges will be double-curved mono-truss structures that will echo the curves of the walkways in Burnham Park, where they will land.
The new 41st Street bridge will be another connection between the Bronzeville neighborhood and the Lake Michigan shoreline. (Chicago Department of Transportation)
The building of the bridge highlights the tension between the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois as portion of the money will be coming from the state. Earlier this month plans to move forward with the bridge were delayed due to the state’s refusal to contribute an extra $2 million to the project. Since the initial proposal and budget, the project has seen a sharp rise in estimated cost. Early estimates by the city were 33% lower than the current estimate of around $34 million.
The 41st street bridge will land in Burnham Park along Lake Michigan. Like the park’s winding paths, the bridge will curve over the highway. (Chicago Department of Transportation)
Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld told the Chicago Tribune that the city would seek “alternative sources” to fill the funding gap. Currently, a large portion of the money will come from federal and state grants, with the remainder coming from the federal Surface Transportation Program. The F.H. Paschen construction company, who has worked on other projects for the city, was the low bidder at around $29 million. Once a contract with them is reached, the project is expected to begin in late spring.