DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. — The northbound lanes of the new Mile Long Bridge could be open to traffic as early as this evening (Nov. 23), weather permitting, the Illinois Tollway announced. The milestone marks the halfway point in the $500 million construction project to deliver the new bridge and a major milestone for the Central Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294) Project.
“The Mile Long Bridge is an extraordinary project, and completion of the new northbound structure stands out due to the hard work and perseverance of the many engineering and construction firms continuing to move forward during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said José Alvarez, executive director of Illinois Tollway. “The northbound bridge contract is the largest in the Illinois Tollway’s history, and we are pleased to deliver this first piece to our customers within budget and on schedule.”
The Mile Long Bridge project includes two side-by-side structures — one to carry northbound traffic and the other to carry southbound traffic — to replace the original bridge built in 1958. The two bridges, each 4,800 feet long, are designed to last 100 years and increasing capacity to five lanes in each direction. The inside shoulders in both directions will be built to serve as Flex Lanes for transit, for emergency vehicles and as an alternate lane when warranted.
The $184.6 million contract to build the new northbound bridge structure began in summer 2019. Work will continue over the winter under a second $182.6 million contract to remove the old northbound structure and construct the new southbound Mile Long Bridge beginning in spring 2021. The entire Mile Long Bridge project is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2023.
The Mile Long Bridge carries traffic over two major railroads, the Des Plaines River, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the Illinois and Michigan Canal and local roads, and over several major distribution centers. Currently, as many as 150,000 vehicles travel across the Mile Long Bridge daily.
Facts about the new northbound Mile Long Bridge:
- The bridge features 27 spans supported by 26 piers (compared to the existing structure, which has 53 piers), reducing the impact on waterways, roadway and rail operations below.
- The bridge deck is supported by 273 precast concrete beams and 52 steel beams. The steel beams, which measure up to 10 feet tall and range in length from 57 feet to 134 feet, were transported from Indiana. The concrete beams, measuring nearly 8 feet tall and up to 187 feet long, were transported from Wisconsin.
- Nearly 16,000 cubic yards of concrete were used for the new bridge — an amount equal to about 1,760 fully-loaded concrete-mixing trucks.
- The bridge deck includes 5.2 million pounds of stainless-steel rebar, a material that is being used on the project because it resists corrosion and helps extend the life of the bridge.
Additional construction information about the Mile Long Bridge project is available in the Projects section on the Tollway’s website.
The Illinois Tollway is coordinating work on the Mile Long Bridge project with the Village of Hodgkins, Village of Countryside, Village of Willow Springs, Village of Justice, Cook County, Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Coast Guard, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, IDNR Office of Water Resources and the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission, as well as numerous businesses located near the Mile Long Bridge.
The project is part of the $4 billion Central Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294) project, scheduled for 2018 through 2025. The project’s goal is to rebuild and improve the Tollway from Balmoral Avenue to 95th Street to provide congestion relief, improve mobility, reconstruct old infrastructure to meet current and future transportation demand, and to address regional needs. The work is funded by the Illinois Tollway’s 15-year, $14 billion Move Illinois capital program.