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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.