1 vote

Smith Bridge


Driving northbound

Photo taken July 2004 by David Backlin

BH Photo #102645



This is the fifth of five bridges built at this location, an obviously favorable place to build a bridge. The first was built in 1852.

All five bridges have had nearly the same name - Smith's Bridge or Smith Bridge.

This 5th Smith Bridge was built in 1957 as part of the new freeway alignment of US 66 between Gardner and the Tri-State Tollway (I-294). It was built on a rather severe skew of 60 degrees; note how the two spans are not aligned. The new freeway and this bridge became Interstate 55 in 1960. With several subsequent rehabilitation projects, most recently in 2014, it continues to serve over 25,000 vehicles daily in each direction on Interstate 55.

NBI and IDOT treat this as two separate bridges, one southbound (IL 099-0008) and one northbound (IL 099-0009). Traffic counts and structural conditions are shown here for the southbound bridge only, and should be doubled for total traffic count on the bridge pair.


Pair of cantilevered through truss bridges over Des Plaines River on I-55 southwest of Joliet in Channahon
Will County, Illinois
Open to four lanes of traffic
Built 1957 as part of US 66; rehabilitated 1979, 1997, and 2014.
Cantilevered Warren through truss
Length of largest span: 485.7 ft.
Total length: 1,405.4 ft.
Deck width: 32.4 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 17.4 ft.
Skew angle
60 degrees
Also called
Des Plaines River I-55 Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.42222, -88.19408   (decimal degrees)
41°25'20" N, 88°11'39" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/400218/4586316 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2017)
Inventory numbers
IL 099-0008 (Illinois bridge number)
IL 099-0009 (Illinois bridge number)
BH 15740 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of August 2017)
Overall condition: Fair
Superstructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 60.6 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com


Beam (14,954)
Built 1957 (269)
Built during 1950s (3,732)
Cantilevered (305)
Cantilevered truss (249)
Des Plaines River (23)
Have street view (26,089)
Illinois (4,537)
Interstate 55 (11)
Navigable waterway (2,128)
Open (38,979)
Owned by state (15,513)
Riveted (2,139)
Skewed (4,845)
Span length 250-500 feet (1,150)
Steel stringer (5,848)
Through truss (14,553)
Total length 1000-2500 feet (1,807)
Truss (31,952)
US 66 (271)
Warren through truss (1,586)
Warren truss (6,395)
Will County, Illinois (135)

Update Log 

  • June 1, 2015: Updated by Roger Deschner: Added photos, and added category "Riveted"
  • May 15, 2015: Updated by Roger Deschner: Add description, link to predecessor bridge; add skew angle
  • May 19, 2014: Updated by Roger Deschner: Added category "US 66"
  • February 21, 2012: New photos from Steve Conro
  • March 29, 2011: Updated by Nathan Holth: Corrected Name To Smith Bridge
  • January 9, 2006: Corrected location map, thanks John White

Related Bridges 



Smith Bridge
Posted June 2, 2015, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

I added a bunch of photos of Smith Bridge. All were taken from the parking lot (which extends under the bridge) or the outdoor deck of Mugz's Hideout, a boater bar just to the northwest of the bridge on the river. Go in, order a drink from the friendly staff, tip well, and then you can walk out on their deck/pier for great views of the bridge and the river.

Besides the current 1957 Smith Bridge, from Mugz's deck you can see the sites of all four predecessor bridges that were built near here, the first in 1852. Nothing remains of any of them.

Smith Bridge (I-55/US-66 over Des Plaines River)
Posted November 18, 2013, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

Another rehabilitation of the southbound bridge is nearing completion. The northbound bridge will be closed for rehabilitation in 2014. Nice to see this pair of cantilevered trusses, originally built as US-66, get the continuing maintenance needed to accommodate their very heavy traffic load on modern I-55. Project photos: http://www.billburmaster.com/rmsandw/illinois/misc/55desrvr....

Smith Bridge
Posted August 6, 2012, by Eric (underthegun1836 [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

I remember them redoing the deck of the northbound bridge as a young child in 79. All traffic was diverted to the southbound bridge. Does anyone else remember this? I only see it saying it was rehabilitated in 1997 and not also 1979.

Smith Bridge
Posted July 31, 2012, by Lyon Wonder (lyon_wonder [at] yahoo [dot] com)

There used to be an even older truss bridge just upstream of the current twin I-55 bridges that once carried US-66 and was still intact in 1961 when this aerial photo was taken.


Of course that bridge was later demolished and doesn't appear on any newer 1970s or later aerial views.

Smith Bridge
Posted April 7, 2012, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

This bridge should be added to category US-66. It was originally built for a new freeway alignment of US 66 in 1957, which subsequently became I-55.

Smith Bridge
Posted March 7, 2012, by willaim quigley (kingquigbdw [at] comcast [dot] net)

Not sure you have the right bridge. I think the smith bridge structure was over the railway to the south of the des plains river. It was redone/removed in the early to mid seventies i think.

Des Plaines River I-55 Bridge
Posted May 16, 2010, by bill (wildbill82956 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

This is the bridge where serial killer John Wayne Gacy disposed of his last four victim's bodies before his capture in 1978.

Des Plaines River I-55 Bridge
Posted April 8, 2010, by bill (wildbill82956 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

On this bridge is where notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy dumped his last four victim's bodies into the Des Plaines river according to the book KILLER CLOWN written by Terry Sullivan.

Des Plaines River I-55 Bridge
Posted January 31, 2010, by Jack J. Brassal (madjaks [at] comcast [dot] net)

Who was the contractor that built this bridge?

What year was it started?