Route 66 news:  Chicago’s Adams Street Bridge to be closed 13 months for repairs

As of Monday night, the Adams Street Bridge across the South Branch of the Chicago River is closed to car, truck and bike traffic for repairs for more than a year, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.  Pedestrians will still be able to use the bridge most of that time, but there will be two 30-day periods later this year when even they will have to cross the river elsewhere.  The closure will affect the two-block stretch from Wacker Drive on the east across the river to and including the Canal Street intersection near Union Station on the west.  Westbound motorists on Adams will be able to either 1) turn north on Wacker and cross over the river at Madison Street, then return to Adams via Clinton Street, or 2) turn south on Wacker, cross the river on Van Buren Street and return to Adams via Jefferson Street.

Route 66 roadies, this affects YOU, so keep the bridge repair in mind from now through February 2017 – and plan accordingly.

Adams Street Bridge in winter  (Photo copyright 2013 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

Adams Street Bridge in winter (Photo copyright 2013 by M.R. Traska; all rights reserved)

Repair work will include reconstruction of the existing viaduct structure over the Union Station tracks, improvements to the Adams and Canal intersection, new street lighting and traffic signals, improved roadway drainage, and structural and electrical improvements to the bridge itself.  During the repairs, drivers won’t be able to use the Canal Street side of Union Station for drop-offs, either; new drop-off points will be located on the Jackson Boulevard side and the Adams side, between Canal and Clinton.

Coincidentally, there is construction ongoing for a new bus transit center on Jackson, across the street from Union Station (we told you about that back in November 2014!).  The buses that used to line up on Canal Street on the station’s east side will be relocated to the new bus terminal/transit center once that’s completed, which should be some time this year.  Moreover, there’s also renovation going on inside Union Station – courtesy of METRA and Amtrak – that will be completed in stages over several years.  That’s a lot of changes.

New transit center construction at Jackson Blvd. (left) and Clinton St. near Union Station, looking SE (Google street view)

New transit center construction at Jackson Blvd. (left) and Clinton St. near Union Station, looking SE (Google street view)

The Adams Street Bridge is on the Adams Street alignment of Route 66 in downtown Chicago; it only became part of the route in the mid-1950s, after U.S. Route 66 had already been in existence for nearly 30 years.  In terms of pedestrian traffic, the Adams Street Bridge is the busiest bridge in all of downtown Chicago – mainly because of its proximity to the Union Station commuter exit.  However, the bridge is also a piece of engineering history:  completed in 1927, it’s the prototype Chicago-style double-leaf bascule trunnion bridge, similar to the Jackson Boulevard Bridge nearby, invented here and the first of its kind.  A 1984 report commissioned by the city called it “the first fully realized version of the ideal Chicago-type bascule bridge.”  That’s perfection, if you’re an engineer.  It’s also the fourth bridge across the South Branch to have been built here on Adams Street and replaced a previous swing bridge that pivoted on a pier in the middle of the South Branch, making river traffic go around it; that lasted until 1925, even though the Army Corps of Engineers had declared it a hazard to navigation as early as 1917.  The current bascule bridge poses no such obstacle to river boats and barges.  Also, most of the other bascule bridges in the city have already been repaired over the last decade; it’s finally Adams Street’s turn.

Taxi and bus traffic will also be rerouted away from the bridge during the construction period.  The CTA bus routes affected are:  the No. 1 Bronzeville/Union Station, No. 7 Harrison, No. 28 Stony Island, No. 121 Union/Streeterville Express, No.126 Jackson, No. 151 Sheridan and No. 156 LaSalle.  For more details about the altered bus routes and a map of the changes, visit the CTA website page here.  For the bus system guide and general individual route information, look here.

That’s all for now, folks!

Your Route 66 newsgal,



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