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FHWA Awards $144M Large Bridge Grant to Four Chicago Bridges, Critical Components of the Illinois International Port and Illinois Waterway

by: Jessica Hoover
The existing 92nd Street/Ewing Avenue Bridge (Photo courtesy of David Wilson)
The existing 92nd Street/Ewing Avenue Bridge (Photo courtesy of David Wilson)
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has awarded a $144 million Large Bridge Grant to a project that will rehabilitate four bascule bridges over the Calumet River on the south side of Chicago. The grant is part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Bridge Investment Program, which is contributing to the Biden-Harris Administration’s largest dedicated investment in highway bridges since the construction of the Interstate highway system.

“Safe, modern bridges ensure that first responders can get to calls more quickly, shipments reach businesses on time, and drivers can get to where they need to go,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The Biden-Harris Administration is proud to award this historic funding to modernize large bridges that are not only pillars of our economy, but also iconic symbols of their states’ past and future.”

The funding was awarded to the City of Chicago, Illinois, for the rehabilitation of the following bridges over the Calumet River: the 92nd Street/Ewing Avenue Bridge, 95th Street Bridge, 100th Street Bridge, and 106th Street Bridge. The bridges are critical components of the Illinois International Port and the Illinois Waterway. The Calumet River connects Lake Michigan with the Lake Calumet Port District, which is further connected to the Illinois River, providing access to the Gulf of Mexico.

The bridges’ $302 million rehabilitation is vital in maintaining Chicago’s road and water traffic. Each bridge lifts an average of 5,000 times per year, and each day, 3,000 trucks and 40,400 vehicles cross the bridges.

“These bridges are an important part of our city’s history, and they must be modernized to ensure they can meet the demands of the future,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Thank you to the Biden-Harris Administration and the federal delegation for helping to make this project a reality through grant funding and for creating the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that makes developments like these possible across the country.”

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In addition to addressing congestion and safety issues for communities in the Chicago area, the rehabilitation of the bridges will address delays in the movement of freight. All four bridges are in poor condition, and one of the bridges is load-restricted, causing trucks and other vehicles that exceed the specified weight to be detoured to other routes. By improving the bridges, this project will eliminate the load restriction and detours and will avoid structural deterioration that might have led to future load restrictions.

Along with the bridge rehabilitation, the project will also upgrade pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure to improve multimodal safety and connectivity. This includes the installation of nearly 3,000 feet of new sidewalk on the 100th Street bridge and the installation of bicycle lanes across all of the bridges. The sidewalks and bicycle lanes will make walking and biking safer and easier and will provide connections within Chicago’s cycling network.

“The benefits of rehabbing the four aging Calumet Bridges are wide-ranging for the entire region and surrounding areas,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. “These bridges connect our communities, get residents where they need to go, and keep cargo moving through the Illinois International Port.”

Rehabilitating the bridges will ensure communities on either side of the river remain connected and will have access to businesses, local jobs, and economic stability in the underserved South Chicago and Calumet areas.

FHWA Administrator Shailen Bhatt said, “We are pleased to partner with the City of Chicago and see work get underway to modernize these bridges, which will have a real impact on the quality of life for thousands of residents and motorists traveling on either side of the Calumet River who will benefit from these improvements for decades to come.”

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