Regularly Operated Movable Bridges on the Chicago River
Chicago Loop Bridges concentrates on the 18 downtown movable bridges primarily because of their easy access. However, there are 11 more bridges that operate regularly on the Chicago River.
The Chicago River is no longer the commercial route to the Mississippi River system. That role is filled by the Illinois Waterway (Calumet River to the Illinois River). The Chicago River is still considered a navigable waterway requiring bridge lifts for vessels with significant air drafts (height of vessel above the water) as far as S. Ashland Ave on the South Branch.
While there is almost no commercial river traffic that requires bridge lifts, these bridges are raised for the bi-annual migration of sail boats to and from Lake Michigan. There are two winter storage yards operating on the South Branch of the Chicago River. The Chicago Yacht Yard is at S. Ashland Ave and the river. The Canal St Marina and Yacht Yard is at S. Canal St and the river. Boat runs are conducted in the spring (mid-April thru June) for the outbound trip to Lake Michigan. The fall boat runs are conducted mid-September to early November for the inbound trip back to the storage yards.
These boat runs are conducted so that a group of boats pass through the bridge system one bridge at a time until they reach their destination. Runs are scheduled - usually twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays; once per day, timed to miss rush hour; and in only one direction.
This map shows the 29 movable bridges between the storage yards and Lake Michigan (27 are operated by CDOT and 2 by railroads). Roll your mouse over the numbers and photos of the bridges appear below the map.