By TONIA HILL
Recently, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) presented information on progress towards the restoration of the Columbia Bridge over the Jackson Park Lagoon also known as Clarence Darrow Memorial Bridge at Ald. Leslie Hairston’s (5th) monthly ward meeting on Tuesday, March 28. Luiz Benitez, chief engineer for the City of Chicago, presented the information to fifth ward residents.
The bridge, which is in Jackson Park situated at the rear of the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr., has been closed since 2015. Presently, the project is in phase one, which includes preliminary engineering, environmental studies, and bridge type of evaluation, public meetings, and a project report.
Next year, CDOT expects to prepare for a contract for the project and construction is slated to begin in 2019.
Proposed improvements include removing existing structure including limestone abutments. Abutments are structures that are built to support the pressure of water on a bridge or pier. Also, maintain bridge width, length, and alignment as well as restoring historic elements including bridge abutment stones and a handrail. Lastly, the plan includes lighting within bridge limits and rehabilitating the path between Stony Island Avenue and Lake Shore Drive.
The bridge was built in the 1880s and was widened in 1895. It was restored in 1942 and 1961. The overall length is 56 inches with an overall deck width of 56’-6’’ feet.