Ohio St Bridge

Ohio St bridge in 2015

The Northwest Expressway feeder (Ohio St) bridge opened to traffic on May 1, 1961. This is the first bridge built at this location and was a piece of the 117 mile “superhighway” system conceived at the end of WWII for Chicago. The purpose of this feeder was to link near north side directly to the Northwest Expressway (Kennedy) and indirectly to the Congress Expressway (Stevenson), Southwest Expressway (Eisenhower), and the South Expressway (Dan Ryan).

The Ohio St bridge consists of twin double leaf bascule bridges. Eastbound Ohio St is carried over the river on the south twin and westbound Ontario St on the north twin.

“Ohio St. Span Leaves Stick, Tie Up Traffic” was the headline in Chicago Tribune of August 8, 1962. The article describes a common malady of movable bridges made of steel. The bridge was stuck in the open position due to thermal expansion. Once raised, the leaves expanded to the point they could not be lowered. Fortunately, rain fell cooling the metal allowing it to close. The delay lasted 25 minutes and traffic was backed up about a half a mile in each direction.

Today, you might see the fireboat called in to cool leaves on the Main Stem bridges during boat run on a hot day.

More information can be found at Historicbridges.org.

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Sources:

“1960: Boom Year in Superhighways!: Finish Congress and Northwest Routes in Fall”; Apr 9, 1960; ProQuest Historical Newspapers; Chicago Tribune

“Ohio St. Span Leaves Stick, Tie Up Traffic”; Aug 8, 1962; ProQuest Historical Newspapers; Chicago Tribune

Patrick McBriarty, Chicago River Bridges, University of Illinois Press, 2013, p 227.

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