Good Bridge, Bad Bridge: two very different CDOT projects

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Sidewalk / multi-use path on the south side of Fullerton prior to the bridge rehab. Photo by Michelle Stenzel.

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After the rehab: bike and ped access on the south side has been eliminated to make room for a dedicated right-turn lane for cars entering southbound Lake Shore Drive.

[This piece also appeared in Checkerboard City, John’s weekly transportation column in Newcity magazine, which hits the streets on Wednesday evenings.]

I recently attended events related to two different Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) bridge projects. One of these spans will be a terrific addition to the city’s sustainable transportation infrastructure. The other one, not so much.

First the good news. CDOT’s Addison Underbridge Connector project will link up existing snippets of bike path along the Chicago River to create a nearly two-mile, car-free route from Belmont Street to Montrose Avenue. This new path segment will be elevated some sixteen feet above the river on piers.

Continue reading Good Bridge, Bad Bridge: two very different CDOT projects

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Wells Street bridge to close next Monday, November 5, with bike detour on Clark Street

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Clark Street now has bridge plates for bicycling and is part of CDOT’s recommended detour for bicyclists who travel south on Wells Street to south of the Chicago River. Photo taken October 30, 2012. 

The Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) jointly announced in a press release today the yearlong closure of the Wells Street bridge. The press release detailed the two, short duration closures in the spring of the CTA Purple and Brown Lines to repair Tower 18. CDOT published an accompanying map of the detours that will go in place which include a route for bicyclists to travel south on Clark Street where new bridge plates have been installed. According to Alderman Brendan Reilly’s newsletter, the project completion date is no later than December 1, 2013.

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Photo of poor quality pavement taken September 4, 2012. 

Grid Chicago has contacted CDOT to ask that the potholes, cracks, and uneven pavement on Clark Street in the right-most lane before the bridge be repaired. Dan Burke, deputy commissioner of the division of engineering at CDOT said over the phone they would send paving crews to the spot within a week.

View this rapidly created Google Maps of the Wells Street detour in a larger screen. The thick blue line represents the recommended detour for bicyclists; LaSalle Street is another option but lacks bridge plates (about half of the bridge has a concrete deck). It was adapted from a CDOT-issued map (.pdf).

Updated October 31 to include the information about potholes and completion date. 

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Does the new “tied arch” bridge on Halsted encourage speeding?

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Approaching the new bridge from the south. Here there are two travel lanes, bike lanes and parking lanes.

When new bridges are built in Chicago, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) generally requires that they be built to accommodate projected traffic demands. The assumption is that in the future there will be more people driving than ever before, although most of us hope this won’t be the case.

So when the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) rebuilt the North Damen Avenue bridge over the Chicago River in 2002, IDOT insisted that the old two-lane bridge be replaced with a four-lane, although Damen is generally only a two-lane street. But as a rule, if you give Chicago drivers the opportunity to speed, they will.

So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that as soon as the new bridge opened, motorists took advantage of the new half mile of wide open space between stoplights at Fullerton and Diversey to put the pedal to the metal. The speeding cars, plus the fact that bike lanes weren’t included in the project, turned a formerly bikeable bridge on a recommended bike route into a hostile environment for cyclists.

Continue reading Does the new “tied arch” bridge on Halsted encourage speeding?

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