Deteriorating I-80 bridges at Joliet worry officials
Mary Wisniewski Chicago Tribune
Feb. 15, 2019
JOLIET — The discovery of cracks in steel beams along Lake Shore Drive this week raised alarms about other problem bridges.
Two of the worst bridges in the state are along Interstate 80, crossing the Des Plaines River in Joliet, a rapidly developing area in Will County with heavy interstate truck traffic and distribution centers for companies like Amazon and Dollar Tree.
A prolonged shutdown of the bridges would be economically devastating. Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk on Thursday said he is asking the city’s public safety officials to begin working with county, state and federal authorities to establish a specific plan of action in case of a partial or complete failure of the structures.
He is also pressing lawmakers for emergency funding to repair and replace the bridges. O’Dekirk warned that unless the Illinois or U.S. departments of transportation give the city a “definitive plan” for funding and repairing the bridges in the near future, he will order a diversion of vehicles away from it, warn motorists of potential dangers and advise on alternative routes.
“Do I think the bridge is going to fall in the river tomorrow, no, but these (IDOT) reports are pretty alarming,” said John Greuling, president and CEO of the Will County Center for Economic Development. “There are a lot of local folks who are concerned about this.”
IDOT said in a statement that short-term repairs for the bridges are planned for this spring, and that the bridges are safe for travel and do not need to be closed. The bridges are inspected every three months.
Des Plaines Bridges News
At the Illinois Department of Transportation, our top priority is safe and efficient transportation.
The state has made plans for making structural repairs on a couple of well-used bridges that need them.
In what other state do highway billboards warn you to drive over a bridge at your own risk?
The bridge on Interstate 80 that spans the Des Plaines River has garnered recent media attention after state inspectors in a report early last year described sections of it as “critical,” “intolerable” and a “high priority for replacement.”
It’s a story we brought you first on CBS 2 about a bridge in Joliet with one of the worst structural ratings in the state.
State Rep. Larry Walsh Jr., D-Elwood, released a statement Tuesday calling for emergency repairs to the Interstate 80 bridge over the Des Plaines River in Joliet.
The state on Thursday declared the Interstate 80 bridge over the Des Plaines River in Joliet is safe despite an inspection report describing sections as “critical,” “intolerable” and a “high priority for replacement.”
Think the shutdown of northbound Lake Shore Drive was bad? Will County bridges are even more alarming.
The discovery of cracks in steel beams along Lake Shore Drive this week raised alarms about other problem bridges.