Having endured 83 years of constant traffic and harsh winter weather, the Jackson Avenue Bridge in downtown Chicago was nearing structural failure.

Jackson Avenue Bridge Reconstruction

The $11.5-million Jackson Avenue Bridge Reconstruction Project began with demolition of the existing structure and pavement. New foundations, piers, abutments, bridge superstructure, roadway, and sidewalks were built. The project also included restoration of the bridge’s architectural features, as well as installation of new precast balustrades, ornamental lighting, and new stairs to the Metra platform below. More than 2,000 cu yd of concrete, 190 tons of rebar, and 300 tons of steel beams were used to build the new bridge.

A Metra commuter train and exclusive McCormick Place buses continued their schedules beneath the construction, thanks to careful coordination and constant communication.

Key Players

Owner: Chicago Department of Transportation
General Contractor: Rausch Construction Co. Inc., Broadview, Ill.
Design Firm: K-Plus Engineering, Naperville, Ill.

To allow uninterrupted train traffic, the project used a first-of-its-kind technique to install 12 100-ft-deep caissons for the new bridge piers. A hole was cut in the existing bridge slab so that a 42-in.-diameter steel casing could be installed between the Metra tracks 20 ft below. The new caissons were drilled from the bridge through the casing, with the spoil brought to the bridge deck above the train traffic.

To protect irreplaceable artwork at the nearby Art Institute of Chicago, all demolition and construction was done with small equipment or techniques that did not produce vibration.

Working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Rausch completed the project in four months so as not to interfere with Chicago’s many festivals held in the area.