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.