Wells St. Bridge Reconstruction

South Leaf Reconstruction

North Leaf Reconstruction

Work on the Wells St. bridge started in November of 2012. The goal of the project is to rebuild the bridge in place with as little disruption to train service as possible (not unlike when the bridge was originally built). The project is about to get visually interesting. (This summary is based on a presentation by Johnny Morcos of CDOT and Dipal Vimawala of AECOM at a recent meeting of the Structural Engineers Association of Illinois.)

The photos below show the Wells St. bridge on February 6, 2013. The shore ends of the bridge are currently in "primer gray" the river arms are as yet unchanged from the project beginning.

  • Wells St. bridge construction status 2/6/2013 - long view.
  • Wells St. bridge construction status 2/6/2013 - close-up south bank.
  • Wells St. bridge construction status 3/1/2013.

The color scheme signals what stays and what will be replaced. The gray pieces are staying and the original colored river arms will be replaced during two different 9 day periods (one for each leaf). The current schedule calls for the first arm to be installed March 2nd thru the 10th and the second April 26 thru May 5th. Work during these periods will be round the clock and train service will be interrupted.

In a nutshell, this is what is scheduled to happen: The old arm will be cut out and lowered onto a barge and floated out of the way. The new section will then be floated into place on a barge, lifted into position by jacks and then attached to the gray section. It may sound "easy," but this is an innovative and complex operation.

There will be some bridge lift activity associated with this project. An equipment barge is scheduled to make its way to Wells St. via the South Branch February 10th. Then on February 23rd and 24th, barges carrying a truss section and a second crane will be making the same trek along the South Branch (note that the lift schedule is contingent upon favorable weather).

I plan to capture some interesting moments of this operation. Please check back or watch CLB on Facebook or Twitter for updates.

In addition to the rebuilding of the bridge, the bridgehouses will be refurbished and the railings restored to the "original" look from 1922.