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CN - Clark Street Bridge

Photos 

CN Clark Street Bridge

East Abutment

Photo taken by John Marvig in December 2018

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BH Photo #441322

Description 

This bridge looks relatively modern, and is in fair condition. Possibly a major renovation of the original 1899 bridge. Plans were to replace it, along with the rest of the St. Charles Air Line bridges, because of its location. It is too far south, so trains on the St. Charles Air Line have to slow down for a curve to get across this bridge. (You can see the curve on the Google map above.) The new bridge was supposed to be built to the north, allowing a straighter, faster, quieter run on the St. Charles Air Line.

However, the only part of the new bridge which was built, was its east abutment. The west abutment was not built.

Facts 

Overview
Pony/through plate girder bridge over Clark Street on Canadian National Railway
Location
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois
History
Built 1899; renovation and abutments rebuilt somewhat later
Railroads
- Amtrak (AMTK)
- Canadian National Railway (CN)
- Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad (CWI)
- Illinois Central Railroad (IC; ICG (1972-1988))
- St. Charles Air Line Railroad
Design
Pony plate girder
Dimensions
Total length: 89.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.86040, -87.63021   (decimal degrees)
41°51'37" N, 87°37'49" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/447693/4634468 (zone/easting/northing)
Inventory number
BH 83941 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • March 27, 2022: Updated by Roger Deschner: New photos; clarify that replacement bridge was never built
  • March 14, 2022: Updated by Roger Deschner: New photo. Changed Lost to Doomed. Bridge still open to traffic.
  • March 13, 2022: New photo from Roger Deschner
  • June 6, 2021: Updated by John Marvig: Replacement complete
  • April 14, 2019: Updated by Roger Deschner: Add photos, description, categories
  • January 6, 2019: New photos from John Marvig
  • December 31, 2018: Added by John Marvig

Sources 

  • John Marvig - marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Roger Deschner - rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com

Comments 

CN - Clark Street Bridge
Posted March 27, 2022, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

Another site visit shows that the new replacement bridge was never built. Only its east abutment was built, but the west abutment never was, as shown by the trees and original retaining wall west of Clark Street in photo #14. This original bridge carries two tracks, which is why it appeared the new bridge had been built in the satellite view.

In that photo #14 you can also see two buildings that are in the way of the new new routing. They probably house control and signaling equipment for Metra, which would have been difficult to relocate. This surface junction between the Metra Rock Island Line and the St. Charles Air Line is very busy, handling dozens of commuter trains daily, as well as CN freight and 6 daily Amtrak trains. Signaling and control is critical here.

I have removed "Doomed" as this bridge is likely to be here for the foreseeable future. It is in better condition than the other St. Charles Air Line bridges which were replaced in 2020, and may not be the original 1899 structure.

CN - Clark Street Bridge
Posted March 14, 2022, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

Something weird happened at this bridge. It was to have been replaced as part of the CN St. Charles Air Line project in 2019-2021. The idea was to have a straighter track alignment, with increased speeds and reduced noise from squealing train wheels. A new replacement bridge was even built, and you can see it on the current 2020 Google satellite view, but it has been removed. In my site visit today, all that's left of the new bridge is its abutments, which you can see in my most recent photo. Train traffic today continues to use the original historic bridge.

I speculate that Metra refused to build two new diamonds (rail line crossings) between the new bridge and the Chicago River, which would have been required to use the new bridge. The line to be crossed is the busy Metra Rock Island Line, with several trains per hour, so to replace the diamonds could have been very disruptive to commuter train service. The original bridge had been rehabilitated at some point, and is in better condition than the other Air Line bridges.

Everything is under construction here, including a new rail line, and a new extension of Wells Street with underpasses under all these myriad rail lines. The Metra Rock Island tracks may even be moved to a new alignment. This all for the new "78" development. So the new replacement bridge may yet be built someday. Hence I have changed this bridge from Lost to Doomed.