Chicago bridge lifts start today
By Liam Ford
8:36 a.m. CDT, April 16, 2011
Anyone trying to get around downtown this morning may have to wait to cross the Chicago River as bridges go up on the first day of Chicago’s bridge lift season.
Bridge lifts accommodate sailboats moving from where they are housed during the winter months on the South Side, up the South Branch of the Chicago River to harbors along Lake Michigan.
Bridge lifts started along the South Branch about 8 a.m. and will continue until about 2 p.m. They are expected to impact downtown mostly between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
The lifts for boats headed outbound to the lake will take place every Wednesday and Saturday through June 29, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation. They are scheduled to start around 9:30 a.m. on Wednesdays and 8 a.m. on Saturdays; downtown will see bridges going up between about 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays.
Dating back to the days when the Chicago River and other city waterways carried large amounts of commercial traffic, the city boasts more movable bridges than any other city in the world. Today, the total number of movable bridges is about 36, down from 43 in the mid-1990s.
The first bridge over the river, at Kinzie Street, was built in 1834, the year after Chicagoans elected their first village council. Most of the city’s bridges are bascule bridges, a type of bridge pioneered with the building of the Cortland Street Bridge, built in 1902, according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago. A bascule bridge uses giant counterweights attached to the shore ends of two interlocking bridge leaves to raise the bridge.
From Chicago Breaking News: