From: Landmarks Illinois
|Statewide Endangered2013 TEN MOST ENDANGERED HISTORIC PLACES|
|Chicago Bascule Bridges
(Cook County)With more moveable bridges than any other city in the world, Chicago is known for these iconic structures along its many waterways. Bascule bridges, the most common moveable bridge in Chicago, are still in operation. But many bascules, such as the Chicago Avenue Bridge(622 W. Chicago) and Division Street Bridges (829 W. Division and1129 W. Division) are no longer operable and are due to be replaced in upcoming years with new wider, fixed bridges. Other bascules, while not planned for replacement, are deteriorating due to the lack of capital repair funds.
The Art Deco-style North Ashland Avenue Bridge, built in 1936, has numerous repair needs and has been in a deteriorated state for many years. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) is preparing a Chicago Bascule Bridge Preservation Plan that will outline a future for these iconic structures. While the replacement of some bridges may be necessary, the opportunity to rehabilitate and reuse others, as well as to salvage significant components such as bridge houses, should be considered.
Some Chicago bascule bridges, such as the Wells Street Bridge (1922), are receiving major rehabilitations. However CDOT officials state that in the case of the Chicago Avenue Bridge and Division Avenue Bridges, their existing structure roadway widths can no longer accommodate current vehicle traffic volumes, with dangerous bottlenecks occurring at the approach points to the bridges. This safety concern, in addition to their deteriorated state and the need to increase vertical clearance under them, has made these bridges a priority for replacement.
The Chicago Art Deco Society has been advocating for the North Ashland Avenue Bridge’s rehabilitation for several years and has formally requested that the Commission on Chicago Landmarks evaluate it as a potential Chicago Landmark. Their outreach to CDOT officials resulted in the removal of some vegetation and graffiti in late 2010, but major repairs are still needed.
For more information on the Chicago Art Deco Society’s (CADS) efforts on the North Ashland Avenue Bridge, contact CADS Preservation Committee Chair Amy Keller. For information on the public review process for the Chicago Avenue Bridge and Division Avenue Bridges, contact Lisa DiChiera, Director of Advocacy, Landmarks Illinois.