Chicago Department of Transportation officials said Monday evening that they were working to put a shoring tower in place under the viaduct structure, which supports Lake Shore over the ramp from Randolph Street, and were hopeful they could reopen northbound lanes Tuesday evening.
Crews on 12-hour shifts worked Monday night to erect the temporary support towers. Officials said they would be able to complete permanent repairs around traffic once shoring was in place, so lanes will reopen.
There were no reports of injuries or vehicles damaged due to the structural damage.
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Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said a CDOT employee noticed the crack Monday morning at about 10 a.m. and the bridge was immediately closed to traffic.
According to officials no exact cause has been determined, but they said they believe the recent extreme cold, which caused the steel to contract, likely exacerbated any preexisting deterioration.
"We think that this cracking was caused by a combination of corrosion coupled with the extreme temperature swings and recent weather," Scheinfeld said.
Northbound Lake Shore Drive is closed from Randolph to Grand. The Monroe Street intersection reopened at 9 p.m. Traffic will be able to use the Randolph/Wacker exit to access Randolph/Wacker, and can also access northbound Lake Shore Drive using Lower Lake Shore Drive across the river.
Eastbound Randolph will remain closed between Columbus and Lake Shore Drive.
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation's website, the bridge was last inspected on June 29, 2017 and found to be in fair or satisfactory conditions. The report does note that inspectors found some minor cracks and deterioration. Scheinfeld said the bridge is inspected every two years, as per federal standards, and was due for reinspection in June of this year.
But some said it's a band-aid over the larger problem of severe underfunding of infrastructure by the state.
"The roads and bridges even where you can't see it, they're failing, and it's because there hasn't been a public commitment to financing the repair of these roads," said Ed Maher, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150.
CDOT said it found other cracks on the ramp from Lower Wacker Drive to southbound Lake Shore Drive. Traffic was also diverted there.
"We have a huge amount of viaduct infrastructure like this, and the mayor makes it a priority to ensure the safety of our residents. We take it very seriously," Scheinfield said.
Chopper 7HD was over the bridge showed that the road appears to be misaligned by at least a few inches.
Southbound Lake Shore Drive has not been affected. The southbound bridge is not connected to the beams that support the northbound lanes.
Drivers should use I-90/94 as an alternate.
Drivers in the downtown area can access the northbound drive if they take Lower Wacker Drive to the Grand Avenue entrance ramp. Drivers heading north from farther south should follow signs posted at 43rd Street and 35th Street telling drivers to take I-55 to I-90/94. Signs posted at 23rd Street will instruct drivers to exit at Columbus Drive.