As I mentioned before, the first piece was free. I hadn’t planned for a time lapse. I had no idea I was going to time my visit for when this happened, nor that it was going to happen so soon. However, I was there with the camera on a tripod so I manually shot a sequence and cut it together. It is short but you get the idea. I left town shortly after this so missed the new section being put in place. I shall hope to be around when the second span is worked on.
I headed back to the work site later the same day to see how things were progressing. I wanted to know how fast things were moving but I also wanted to see the work at night. The cutting torches they are using provide a great shower of sparks but, during the day, it is hard to make that impression since they are not very conspicuous. If they were cutting at night, I figured the effect would be more pronounced. That certainly was the case.
Moreover, they had got a lot further than I had expected. The section was almost totally cut free. It was now rest on the barge ready to be moved when the final cuts were made. As you can see from above, it wasn’t long before this happened. They really had made swift work of the first stage of the task.
The start of the bridge replacement program I mentioned here was swift. One of the first things they did after getting the trains shut down was to open the span that wasn’t being worked on. This provided room to move the barges around with their loads without obstruction. Then the team got to work on cutting loose the section that is to be replaced. There was plenty of structure to be cut free first before the main section could be removed. Teams were busy cutting and removing all day. The project is underway around the clock. Some of the shots are in the gallery below.
A major engineering activity is underway in the city at the moment. The Chicago River is crossed by many bridges. Most of them are bascule bridges and they are part of a cycle of maintenance with each bridge getting refurbished periodically. Metalwork repair and repainting is usually the order of business but, sometimes, they need more significant work. The Wells Street Bridge is undergoing just such a work program. Part of it is being repaired but some of the metalwork needs replacement.
This bridge is more complex than some. It has two levels with street traffic on the lower level and the “L” on the upper level. Replacement is, therefore, more problematic. Shutting down a line on the “L” is not done lightly. The street traffic is more easily diverted so, having that closed is easier to handle and it has been shut for a while now as the preparation for the repair was underway. The bridge has two spans and they are being done one at a time. The south span is first. They have prepared the section that is remaining and now they are cutting off the rest.
A new span has been constructed offsite. This is floated to the location, the old section is cut off and the new section bolted on. That makes it sound so simple, doesn’t it? It obviously is a little more complex, not least because it has to be done in just over a week including replacing the train tracks and electrical systems. These shots show the site in preparation for the big task. I will provide updates as the job progresses. Sadly, I have to be out of town during some of the work but will show what I can.