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Report: Busiest ‘structurally deficient’ bridge in area is Kennedy Expy. over Ashland

The Kennedy Ashl |  Sun-Times Library

The Kennedy at Ashland | Sun-Times Library

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How bad is your bridge?

See our interactive map showing details on all the structurally deficient bridges in the six-county area at suntimes.com

INTERACTIVE MAP: Structurally deficient bridges in six-county area

Updated: July 22, 2013 5:09PM



Drive the bridge on the Kennedy Expressway over Ashland Avenue, and you will be traveling the busiest “structurally deficient’’ bridge in the six-county area.

The bridge is one of 73 in Chicago and 326 in the six-county area identified as being “structurally deficient,’’ based on a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of 2012 federal bridge data.

The nation is littered with such bridges –­– structures in need of “significant maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement,’’ according to a recent Transportation for America study that urges dedicated federal money for bridge repair.

Nationally, motorists take 260 million trips a day over deficient bridges, the Transportation for America Study found.

Luckily, the Kennedy Expressway Bridge over Ashland is supposed to undergo $4.7 million in repairs, starting next week, Illinois Department of Transportation officials said Wednesday. The bridge suffers from deteriorated concrete on its supporting piers and beams, IDOT said.

In the meantime, it has been carrying 323,400 vehicles on an average day — the most of any “structurally deficient” bridge in the Chicago area, federal data indicates.

Statewide, the Transportation for America study put the number of structurally deficient Illinois bridges at 2,311, or nearly 9 percent the state’s total bridges. That compares with 11 percent nationally.

The bridge with the lowest “sufficiency rating” in the six-county area — scoring a 0 out of a possible 100 — is Chicago’s Division Street bridge over the Goose Island canal, west of Halsted.

The bridge’s “sufficiency” score, based on several different factors, was dragged down by the fact that it narrows to one lane in each direction and truck traffic on it is restricted, according to Chicago Department of Transportation officials.

“Still, the bridge’s condition warrants regular monitoring, and we are inspecting it every month,’’ said Pete Scales, a CDOT spokesman. “CDOT is planning a full replacement of the Division Street bridge within the next few years and will be doing some interim repairs within the next 12 months.’’

IDOT officials and even Transportation for America experts also caution that a “sufficiency rating’’ can reflect several factors that have nothing to do with the condition of the bridge, such as lane width or low clearances.

And, experts say, adjustments can be made to a bridge until the time and money to repair it is found. That includes imposing weight restrictions, barring trucks of a certain weight, or eliminating some lanes on the bridge.

IDOT spokeswoman Jae Miller said Gov. Pat Quinn has made investing in bridges a key priority for Illinois.

Bridges are inspected on a routine basis, Miller said, and “Safety is our number one priority. If a bridge is deemed unsafe, it will immediately be closed to the public.’’



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