(Above) Chicago Avenue Bridge over Chicago River with Montgomery Ward building in background. (Click on images to view larger versions.)
18-Jun-18 The City of Chicago does not have a bridge to sell you it wants to give it away for free.
According to a public notice on the citys website, the Chicago Avenue Bridge over the north branch of the Chicago River is available to anyone who will remove it at their expense, maintain it, and assume all financial responsibility.
Otherwise, the bridge is expected to be demolished so that a non-movable concrete and steel bridge can be built.
||(Left) Chicago Avenue Bridge, photographed in 2015 by James Phillips.
The city is asking interested parties to send a letter by July 13 detailing means of funding, how the bridge will be moved, how quickly it will be moved, and where it will be moved to.
The current bridge at Chicago Avenue, a pony truss bascule bridge, opened to traffic in 1914. It was one of the first of the Chicago River bridges to have an operator house made of concrete and not wood. According to a 1911 report by Chicago Department of Public Works, the city intended to eventually build a subway under Chicago Avenue, and so the Chicago Avenue Bridge was specially designed to accommodate future construction of a double subway tunnel.
Today, with its rusted surfaces, broken lights, and loose wire, the bridge has suffered from lack of regular maintenance, according to Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago.
Its...tragic that the famous bascule bridges, an iconic Chicago feature of our city and an amazing collection of these unique historic structures, are being lost so rapidly in and around the North Branch Corridor, said Miller (right).
If the bridge cannot be repaired, Miller says the city should at least try to reuse in the new bridge what it can from the existing bridge.
It would also be good to consider if the existing bridge houses could be restored or reconstructed as necessary and integrated into the new bridge as well. There are several ideas and concepts which could easily be considered and could further enhance the riverfront.
Inside Publications contributed to this story.