Grid Shots: Our deteriorating infrastructure

The theme of this post is especially salient given that Congress cannot agree on a new transportation bill (instead they renewed the existing program one more time). Then last Friday I get an email from the Natural Resources Defense Council, giving me an update on dilapidated transportation in the state (2,200 structurally deficient bridges, transit systems that need repairs and upgrades).


Division Street bridge over Goose Island. The bridge will be replaced. Photo by Seth Anderson. 


This photo is of the Dempster Street viaduct at the Purple Line in Evanston, Illinois. Peter Carr took the photo and posted it along with 14 other shots of CTA in various states of disrepair.


Streets are riddled with potholes. The City announced in March that it would begin pothole repair and road resurfacing six weeks earlier than usual because of the warmer weather. Photo by Michelle Stenzel.


Several of the Bloomingdale Line viaducts and columns will need repair before the Bloomingdale Trail opens, but it was announced at the last meeting that most would just need surface repair. Photo by Seth Anderson.

Next week’s Grid Shots theme is “nature”, to coincide with Earth Day. Add your photos to our Flickr group. Submitted photos appear on the sidebar of the site, and on the photos page.

10 thoughts on “Grid Shots: Our deteriorating infrastructure”

  1. what about ‘spectacularly bad West Side underpass pavement?’ I wonder about that sometimes. I talked to an engineer and he said ‘I bet they can’t fit the equipment under the bridges.’ I talked to Ben Seligman, the CFO of the ATA and he speculated that ‘the underpass might be owned by the railroad owners, and they neglect it.’

    1.  The City, and sometimes IDOT, is typically responsible for the roadway viaducts under railroad bridges, not the railroads.  The issue with the pavement is generally that they can’t add a layer of asphalt without reducing the already low vertical clearance.  They could reconstruct the whole roadway, but don’t have enough money.  For issues like lighting, sometimes the problem is simply that nobody realizes it’s broken. Call 311.

    1. I was in Evanston over the weekend and saw the construction in progress.  I noticed the new steel span waiting nearby at its temporary location.  I’ll be very glad to see that one replaced.  The replacements at Main and Church helped a lot. I’ll be thrilled to see Dempster without all that extra bracing and hideous deteriorated concrete.  Losing that center column will make it easier for bikes and cars to share the road in that area with a lot less conflict.

  2. These are all excellent examples.  That Division Street bridge looks even worse from below – on the river.  I wish my computer wasn’t in the shop so I could have contributed a few.  

    In our neighborhood, bad sidewalks are a significant problem.  I wasn’t as aware of it until a day several months ago when I was walking with a petite friend who was pushing her baby in a stroller.  In many places, the broken areas and heaved up edges were significant enough that I had to help her lift the stroller over those gaps and mini-cliffs to continue.  Several weeks ago, I was walking on another block with badly broken sidewalks, enjoying the scenery, when I stopped paying attention to the sidewalk surface for a minute, just in time to catch my toe on a heaved up edge of broken sidewalk.  I slammed down hard, twisted my back, crunched my knee into the concrete, tearing it open, and wrenching a few other body parts in the process.  It was difficult even to get up and limp home.  I had 4 days of severe back pain, plenty of other pain, and an infected knee.  I hate to imagine how much worse the injuries could have been for a frail elderly person.When I’ve got the computer back from the shop, I’ll add some photos on Flickr.  Sidewalks may not be as big and dramatic as bridges and viaducts, but they can really have an impact on quality of life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *