92nd Street Bridge closure frustrates Southeast Side business owners

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The 92nd Street Bridge over the Calumet River on Chicago's Far Southeast Side has been broken since July 2017. (WLS)

The 92nd Street Bridge over the Calumet River on Chicago's Far Southeast Side has been broken for three months and nearby business owners are frustrated about how it impacts their business.

The bridge is one of the busiest in the city. With a marina close by as well as industrial traffic, it goes up and down at least 14 times a day. However, since the beginning of July, it has remained up and broken because the bridge's gears had worn out.

James Gornick, whose 37-year-old autobody shop, Gornick's Auto Rebuilder's, is down the street. He said when the bridge goes down for a long period of time, he loses business.

"It affects us tremendously," he said.

He added: "It seems like it goes down every spring, every year, now it's just not being fixed properly. I think if this bridge were being fixed downtown, it would be fixed in a heartbeat."

The bridge is on Route 41, where Lakeshore Drive becomes Ewing Avenue.

Detoured traffic and bus routes also affects the bottom line at nearby Skyway Dogs.

"Volume is down, normally this lot would be full and because people are rerouting, it's down," said Sandy Polk, who owns Skyway Dogs.

Understanding their frustration, Ald. Sue Sadlowski Garza (10th Ward) is asking for residents to be patient. She said the bridge is about 100 years old. With limited staff, the Chicago Department of Transportation has been working non-stop to repair the bridge since its gears broke in July, Garza said.

Back in the day, we had 90 iron workers that worked for the city, now we have 14 that are working around the clock," Garza said.

Ald. Garza said attrition and layoffs are to blame for the reduced number of city iron workers.

She said repairing or replacing the gears is a time-consuming process, and expects the bridge to be operational again in December.
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