South Western Avenue Bridge over the Sanitary and Ship Canal


South Western Avenue  Bridge


South Western Avenue Bridge over the Sanitary and Ship Canal


South Western Avenue Bridge


Railroad Viaduct near the Western Avenue Bridge


Railroad Bridge near the South Western Avenue Bridge




The current bridge over the Sanitary and Ship Canal has an interesting history.  It was built in 1940. It replaced a swing bridge built in 1900.    Bridge substructure contractor was M.J. McDermott and Company.  Superstructure contractor was Strobel Construction  Company.  It was a fixed plate girder bridge.  It was a ten lane bridge.   It offered a 21 foot clearance.

The clearance of the bridge was inadequate for the passage of newly constructed World War II naval ships from Great Lakes Shipyards to the Gulf of Mexico.  In 1942, the city of Chicago signed an agreement with the Naval Department.  The city agreed to convert the bridge from its current configuration to one of the largest vertical lift bridges at the time.  In a few short months, towers were added along with the machinery necessary to operate the bridge.  The bridge was operational April 5, 1943.   One interesting fact was that traffic on the bridge was not seriously affected during the conversion project.


South Western Avenue Bridge with lift towers in place.


Some time after the 1972 photo was taken the lift towers were removed and the bridge became a fixed one.

The bridge is metal through girder.  It is 295 feet in length.  The road way is 107 feet in width.  Length of maximum spam is 108.9 ft.   The deck width is 145.3 ft.  There are bilateral side walks measuring 9.5 feet.    It consists of one main span and two approach spans.   Vertical clearance is 22.0 feet.

Bridge inspection report as of 10/2011:  Deck condition rating  6 out of  9 Satisfactory. Superstructure rating 5 out of 9 Fair.    Substructure rating 5 out of 9  fair.



Approach to South Western Avenue Traffic Bridge over the Sanitary and Ship Canal


Western Avenue Bridge


Western Avenue Bridge


Western Avenue Bridge


Western Avenue Bridge


Western Avenue Bridge


Pedestrian Bridge Western Avenue Bridge


Western Avenue Pedestrian Bridge


View from the Western Avenue Bridge


Western Avenue Bridge

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