When a failing bridge
in a highly congested area
needs to be replaced.

How did we utilize novel construction techniques to minimize disruptions while replacing a failing bridge in a highly congested area?

Division Street Bridge Construction

Our broad construction expertise allows us to quickly develop and deploy new construction practices designed to fit very demanding sets of constraints.

“We used an alternative bridge design to get the project done on budget and ahead of schedule, which allowed us to get traffic moving sooner than expected, relieving a lot of congestion.”

– Richard Winkler, Project Manager

Built in 1904, the historic Division Street Bridge was one of the very first bascule bridges to be constructed in Chicago. Despite ongoing maintenance and some efforts at rehabilitation, it was becoming clear in late 2013 that the bridge was failing structurally and that a plan of action was required. With little to no time to propose and institute a long term plan, the Chicago Department of Transportation opted for a 5-10 year interim plan that would allow for minimum impact on the surrounding neighborhoods including limited disruption to traffic flow. This interim plan also gave the CDOT the time it needed to formulate a permanent solution. Ultimately, a temporary modular type bridge structure was thought to be the best solution and we were brought on to oversee and execute its installation.

The Division Street Bridge, which crosses the North Branch Chicago River Canal, is bounded by Halsted running North/South on its east side. On its west side it is a busy thoroughfare leading through Goose Island to the Kennedy Expressway.

Given that the area sees significant traffic and is often congested, it was critical that the project be completed as quickly as possible. Aware of these issues, the City gave us a very short 90 day window to finish construction.

Aside from time constraints, we were faced with another more immediate challenge: how to complete demo and construction in a high traffic area with a clearance of approximately 200 feet on either side of the bridge structure. To address this, we opted to rent an adjacent lot to serve as a temporary staging area for equipment and materials. This meant that anything removed during the demo process was transported from the site the same day to help minimize impact on the surrounding areas. Building a structure over a regularly used waterway also meant an added layer of safety issues and concerns.

The first step in constructing the new bridge was to work closely with the City to redesign and rebuild the two abutment structures that would ultimately provide support for the bridge. Once completed, an Acrow bridge—a type of modular bridge not commonly used in the Midwest—was shipped in pieces from New Jersey to be constructed in ten stages across the canal.

Because there was no space to construct the bridge in its entirety and crane it in, we became the first construction company in the Midwest to launch the bridge out over the river as it was being built, using a cantilever system to suspend it almost 200 feet across the river as sections were lifted and bolted to the end.

Despite the unique challenges presented by the project, we were able to keep to the budget with minimal change orders and complete the work well within the 90 day window, reopening affected sections of Division Street two weeks ahead of schedule. And years later, the bridge, which complies with all State and Federal Highway regulations, is sustaining heavy traffic loads.