A reader on our Facebook page suggested we feature the 35th Street pedestrian bridge, over the Illinois Central railroad tracks and connected to a second bridge over Lake Shore Drive, in this week’s Grid Shots*. Here’re several other interesting and, in some cases, dilapidated pedestrian bridges over Lake Shore Drive. All photos are by Eric Rogers, who contributes many of his great photos to our Flickr group.
3500 S Lake Shore Drive
The 35th Street pedestrian bridge is particularly uninviting; it links the neighborhood at 35th and Cottage Grove to the Lakefront Trail. It should have been replaced by now.
On both the east and west sides it has stairs only and is difficult to see from the Lakefront Trail or the neighborhood. Replacing it has been on the Chicago Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) radar since at least 2003 when CDOT “in conjunction with the Chicago Architecture Foundation initiated the ‘Bridging the Drive Competition’ to solicit concepts for replacement structures at this location as well as three other locations along Lakeshore Drive [sic]. A total of 23 firms from all over the world provided 67 proposals for the various bridge crossings. On January 13, 2005, the design submitted by Teng & Associates, Inc. was selected as the winning entry for the 35th Street location.” From the American Society of Civil Engineers May/June 2010 newsletter (which includes models and drawings of the winning bridge design).
The poor condition steps on the east side of the bridge.
In 2004 then-CDOT commissioner Miguel D’Escoto said they had obtained partial funding; it may have had Phase 1 engineering completed by this time. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) has it listed as a possible project for CMAQ funding in 2007, 2008 and 2010. (I didn’t anticipate researching far into the bridge’s history when I started this article until I noticed it had a history worth digging into. I will have to ask CDOT and CMAP why a new bridge hasn’t been built.)
4700 S Lake Shore Drive
I think this is the best one as it is one of the few with a gradual ramp up to the bridge from street level without hairpin turns. That makes it easy to ride your bicycle up and down. It opened in November 2005. This bridge’s design was also part of the competition as the 35th Street bridge.
1600 N Lake Shore Drive
Probably the busiest pedestrian bridge, and inadequate for the kind and frequency of users. There are so many people walking, scooting, and cycling across, or dragging kids and coolers, up and down the narrow, tight curved ramps. Please walk your bike across!
2700 S Lake Shore Drive
A cagey bridge. This bridge has also been on the planning desks of CDOT and CMAP for the same time as the 35th Street bridge.
*We skipped the past two Grid Shots. You know, the holidays.