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Chicago bridge lifts begin with long delays at Lake Shore Drive

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Twice a week, 27 moveable bridges on the river will raise up

A large bridge split in the middle lifts in the air to let boats through on a river. Buildings, trees, and walkway surround the river that lets out into a lake.
The Columbus Drive moveable bridge.

As much as Chicagoans try to hang onto the warm summer temperatures, the transition into fall is now impossible to ignore with bridge lifts beginning this weekend.

While the bridge lifts usually don’t take too long, the city warns that the Lake Shore Drive bridge lift could take much longer than usual.

As recreational boats come in from the harbors along Lake Michigan, the city schedules sequential bridge lifts for all 27 bridges along the Chicago River so the larger vessels and tall sailboats can make it to winter storage facilities. The first one will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, September 14.

Chicago’s moveable bridges from Lake Shore Drive to Ashland Avenue along the main and south branches of the river will be lifted twice a week at 9 a.m. on Saturdays and 9:30 a.m. on Wednesdays through mid-November, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT). A full 2019 schedule can be found on the agency’s website. If no boat owners plan to move their boats, then the bridges won’t be lifted.

Each bridge lift usually takes about 8 to 12 minutes and stops traffic. However, the wait at the Lake Shore Drive bridge could be 45 minutes or longer due to other ongoing work and repairs. CDOT advises drivers take another route around 9 a.m. on Saturdays and 9:30 a.m. on Wednesdays during the scheduled lifts.

Other construction near Lake Shore Drive includes work on the Navy Pier Flyover, which is currently closed until the end of September. When the flyover does reopen, the path over DuSable Park will be ready to use with a temporary bridge connecting to the east sidewalk of the Lake Shore Drive bridge.

While the bridge lifts won’t affect the north branch of the river, it is important to know that the Grand Avenue Bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic from September 16 to 27 for emergency repairs, according to 1st Ward Alderman Daniel La Spata.

Other streets temporarily affected by the bridge lifts include:

Columbus Drive, Michigan Avenue, Wabash Avenue, State Street, Dearborn Street, Clark Street, La Salle Street, Wells Street, Franklin Street, Lake Street, Randolph Street, Washington Street, Madison Street, Monroe Street, Adams Street, Jackson Boulevard, Van Buren Street, Congress Parkway, Harrison Street, Roosevelt Road, 18th Street, Canal Street, Cermak Avenue, Halsted Street, Loomis Avenue, and Ashland Avenue.