Deteriorating I-80 bridges at Joliet worry officials

Mary Wisniewski Chicago Tribune
Feb. 15, 2019

Photo of Des Plaines Bridge Structure

The east-side span of Interstate 80 near the Des Plaines River in Joliet is seen in this photo taken Tuesday. Some of the most structurally worrisome bridges in the area are not in Chicago, but along the rapidly developing I-80 corridor in Will County. Abel Uribe, Chicago Tribune

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.

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Des Plaines Bridges News

IDOT insists I-80 bridge in Joliet is safe

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.”

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