After several delays, the 606 project marched forward last night with the addition of the new Milwaukee Avenue arches, a 35-foot tall, 55,000-pound steel addition organizers hope will become an icon at one of the forthcoming trail's busiest nexus points. It's a signature piece of infrastructure designed by Collins Engineering, according to consultant and project engineer Adam O'Halleran, who was on site helping with the move. Dozens of neighbors and onlookers gathered around the intersection and in the Aldi parking lot at various points over the weekend as construction workers lifted the arches and crowned the overpass with a series of cranes. Two 40-ton cranes were used to help apply and secure braces, and one 300-ton machine with massive counterweights was to move the structure, first to the bridge area above Leavitt Street Sunday afternoon and then to the final resting place above Milwaukee Avenue on Sunday night.
Initially schedule for a Saturday move, high winds delayed the project until Sunday afternoon, and then Sunday evening. The irregular shape of the structure made balancing the heavy load difficult, so everything took longer than initially expected. By 9 p.m. on Sunday, the steel arches were finally lifted, then slowly pirouetted by workers with a series of ropes. Suspended above the nearby Park 567, the piece was swung to avoid power lines, hoisted above trees and lamp posts, and finally laid atop the Milwaukee overpass at about 9:30pm.
According to Beth White, Chicago Area Office Director for the Trust for Public Land, which is managing the 606 project, the design isn't just meant to be pretty. The steel arches will provide enough support for the Milwaukee overpass to lift the bridge a few feet and remove the central support pier currently standing on Milwaukee, which will make the overpass easier to traverse for trucks and allow the city to widen the street for cyclists.
"There's been a lot of care about the overall project being a connector, and bridging communities is key" she says. "This was a very symbolic culmination of the big bridge work."
White said the entire 606 project is still on schedule for a June 2015 opening date, and organizers are committed to opening all at once, so Chicagoans can immediately experience the full benefits of this new transportation route as future amenities, such as the art billboard over Milwaukee, are completed throughout the rest of the year. When asked about recent proposals to potentially extend the 606 east past Ashland to the river, White said it's an idea that "just makes sense." It's been a part of the conversation since the initial Logan Square Open Space Plan in 2004, and she'd love to see it happen, as connecting the 606 to any riverfront bike path would be a huge benefit for local transportation.
·The Finkl Steel Land Grab Could Come With a 606 Extension [Curbed Chicago]
·The 606 Adds A 6th Park, Announces June 2015 Opening [Curbed Chicago]
·All prior 606 trail coverage [Curbed Chicago]