VanBuren Steet Bridge over the south branch of the Chicago River


VanBuren Street Bridge

     The current Van Buren Bridge is the  sixth at this site.  It opened on December 5, 1956.  The Van Buren Steet Bridge (361 West; 380 South) runs east to west over the South branch of the Chicago River 2.3 miles from the mouth.    It has only one  bridge house.It was rehabbed in 2014.


Van Buren Street Bridge

     It is a metal rivet-connected Pratt Through Truss, Movable Double Leaf Bascule (fixed trunnion) and approach spans; metal stringer (Multi-beam), Fixed.  It consists of one main span and 2 approach spans.   The main span length is 210.3 feet.  The structure length is 267 feet.  Roadway width is 44 feet.The

     Designer:  Division of Bridges and Viaducts, City of Chicago

     Superstructure contractor :Overland Construction of Chicago.  Costs were $1,514,723. 

     M.J. Boyle and Company removed the prior bridge and dredged the construction site. Costs were $332,675.

     Electrical work was done by Duane Brothers Electric Company.   Cost was $332,675.

     Bridge tender house and enclosures were built by R.C. Wieboldt Company.  Cost was $157, 043.


Van Buren Street Bridge

     The first Van Buren Street Bridge opened on January, 1850.  It was a pontoon swing wood hand operated.  


     Designer :  Derastus Harper,  City Superintendent Public Works

     Contractor:  Derastus Harper, City Superintendent Public Works

     Construction costs were unknown.  Bridge was removed in In 1858.

     The second VanBuren Bridge opened on September, 1858.  It was a pivot type.  It was constructed of wood and was hand operated. 

     Contractors were:

Designed:         Chapin and Howard

Construction: Chapin and Howard

     Construction costs were $18,000.  It was removed in 1867.

     The third Van Buren Street Bridge opened in 1867. It was a wood and iron Howe truss center pier swing bridge.  It was hand operated.The

     Contractors were:         Design:                          Fox and Howard

                                                 Construction:              Fox and Howard

     Construction costs were $18,270.  The bridge was destroyed by the Chicago Fire October 8–10, 1871.       

     Fourth bridge at Van Buren Street opened on January 12, 1872.  It reused the prior stone center pier.    There was a new rim bearing turntable and a swing wood and iron hand operated superstructure. 


Design:                 E. Sweet Jr and Company

Construction:     E Sweet Jr and Company

     Construction cost were $13,200. Bridge was removed on January 4, 1894.          

     The fifth bridge at Van Buren Street opened on February 4, 1895.  It was a Scherzer Rolling Lift bascule bridge. It was electric powered.

     Contractors were:

Design:                                            Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company

Superstructure Contractor:      C.L. Strobel

Substructure  Contractor:         FitzSimons and Connell  Company

     Construction costs were $169,700.  The bridge was removed in 1956.


Van Buren Street Bridge

Bridge Inspection as of 11/2012

Deck                         Condition.          Rating.          Satisfactory     6 out of 9

Superstructure.    Condition.         Rating.           Serious.            3 out of 9

Substructure.         Condition.        Rating.          Satisfactory     6 out of 9


Van Buren Street Bridge

   For a period of time, there was a tunnel beneath the Chicago River at Van Buren Street.  It opened in 1892. It was used by the West Chicago Street Railway Company.  The tunnel was designed by Samuel Artingstall, City engineer.  It was arch masonry and concrete construction.  It was 30 feet wide, 1,514 feet in length.  The two tunnel approaches were approximately 600 feet in length.  Construction costs were $1 million. 

     In 1899,Sanitary District advised increasing the river depth to 26 feet for the  river flow reversal project.   In September, 1904, the Secretary of War ordered either removal of the three tunnels under the Chicago River or lowering of the tunnels so that the river depth would be 21 feet.  There followed a legal battle between the City of Chicago and the West Chicago Street Railway Company as to who should pay for the VanBuren Street tunnel revision project.  The railroad eventually lost in court in 1906.

     In 1906, the Union Railway Company acquired the West Chicago Street Railway Company.  The new company began work on the new deeper, tunnel.  This opened in 1911.  It was used regularly until 1924.   It was used intermittently until 1952.   Since that time, the tunnel was eventually sealed. 


Van Buren Street Bridge


Van Buren Street Bridge


Van Buren Bridge


Under Surface Van Buren Bridge


Van Buren Street Bridge


Under Surface Van Buren Street Bridge

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