1 vote

Lake Shore Drive Drawbridge


General View Of Bridge, Looking West

Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #118328


Street Views 


As originally built, this bridge was planned to carry automobile traffic on its upper level, and railroad lines on its lower level. However, the railroad lines were never built. In 1983, the lower deck was converted for automobile use as a collector-feeder road serving Randolph Street, Wacker Drive, Illinois Street, and Grand Avenue. At part of that same project, the infamous killer S-curve on Lake Shore Drive, which connected to the south end of this bridge, was replaced with a gradual curve.

This bridge is unusual for being a double-deck bascule bridge, and it also carries one of the heaviest traffic counts for a moveable bridge anywhere.


Double-deck bascule bridge over Main Branch Chicago River on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois
Open to traffic
Built 1937
- American Bridge Co. of New York
- Hugh E. Young of Chicago, Illinois
- Ketler-Elliot Erection Co. of Chicago, Illinois
- Strauss Bascule Bridge Co. of Chicago, Illinois
Two-level Bascule Pratt deck truss
Length of largest span: 264.0 ft.
Total length: 355.8 ft.
Deck width: 100.0 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Outer Drive Bridge
Link Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.88889, -87.61389   (decimal degrees)
41°53'20" N, 87°36'50" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/449070/4637621 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Chicago Loop OE E
Average daily traffic (as of 2018)
Inventory numbers
IL 016-6030 (Illinois bridge number)
BH 15144 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of September 2018)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Serious (3 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 36 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • October 3, 2020: New photo from Tyler
  • February 15, 2018: New Street View added by Dana and Kay Klein
  • January 21, 2016: New photos from Royce and Bobette Haley
  • December 1, 2015: New Street View added by Douglas Butler
  • February 22, 2015: Photo imported by Dave King
  • January 24, 2014: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • September 22, 2013: New Street View added by Michael Miller
  • December 24, 2012: Updated by Roger Deschner: Change name from "Lakeshore" to "Lake Shore" to conform to local useage. Add description.
  • September 30, 2012: New photos from Steve Conro
  • May 14, 2010: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • April 8, 2010: New Street View added by James Baughn

Related Bridges 


  • HAER IL-54 - Chicago River Bascule Bridge, Outer Drive, Spanning Chicago River at Outer (Lakeshore) Drive, Chicago, Cook County, IL
  • James Baughn - webmaster [at] bridgehunter [dot] com
  • J.R. Manning - thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net
  • Historicbridges.org - by Nathan Holth
  • Royce and Bobette Haley - roycehaley111 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Steve Conro - sconro [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Roger Deschner - rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Douglas Butler
  • Michael Miller - michael_a_miller [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Dana and Kay Klein
  • Tyler


Lake Shore Drive Drawbridge
Posted October 3, 2020, by Tyler

The sidewalk for the bridge is in the process of being widened. Pedestrian and bicycle traffic is diverted between the center truss lines. The construction can be seen in the photo I posted.

Lake Shore Drive Drawbridge
Posted October 7, 2019, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)
Lake Shore Drive Drawbridge
Posted February 13, 2019, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Bridges built ca. 1960 to present do not seem to have been as well built as earlier bridges...

Lake Shore Drive Drawbridge
Posted February 13, 2019, by Mike Kerkau (mjkerkau [at] gmail [dot] com)

Could be. Here in Bay City (Michigan), there's real talk of removing one of our four drawbridges entirely - Liberty Bridge, which was built in 1986 and is in a very similar condition based on inspection records: http://bridgereports.com/1247961

Plus there's also the Lafayette Street Bridge, which underwent a major reconstruction in 1987 (original structure built in 1938) and is set for a complete replacement in 2020.

It honestly makes me wonder if it all boils down to not just poor maintenance, but also poor initial construction to begin with.

Lake Shore Drive Drawbridge
Posted February 12, 2019, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

This bridge has been reopened thanks to temporary shoring holding up the cracked girders.

It turns out 2 out of 7 girders had broken at a badly corroded expansion joint. The weather the week before of 23 degrees below zero, followed by 60 degrees above, probably made the expansion joints move more than usual. But due to corrosion, they couldn't slide as well as designed, so instead the (also corroded) beams broke. This is pretty easy to see in the copyrighted newspaper photo linked to in my previous posting.

It was discovered by a city crew replacing traffic signal light bulbs. They saw it, knew it was not good, and called the engineers. They may have saved lives.

What is also apparent in the numerous photos of this incident, is that the concrete piers holding up this roadway are also badly deteriorated, with serious spalling exposing rebar to the elements. Poor maintenance! The failed approach span was built in 1986, much too recently for this kind of deterioration and failure. This whole affair had nothing to do with the original 1938 bascule bridge itself - it was all on the 1986 south approach span.

Makes me wonder if we're going to see more late 20th century bridges begin to fail, as they age much more quickly than older bridges.

Lake Shore Drive Drawbridge
Posted February 11, 2019, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

All upper deck northbound lanes of this bridge have been closed due to "Incident with structure damage". A steel beam has cracked and failed in the south approach span, which was built in 1983.

Photo of damage in newspaper article: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-la...

Lakeshore Drive Bridge
Posted April 17, 2008, by James Adorno (adorno423 [at] aol [dot] com)

This was taken April 2008 from the giant ferris wheel on Mavy Pier

Lakeshore Drive Bridge
Posted September 8, 2007, by Tom Staley (thomass [at] nc [dot] rr [dot] com)

Photo taken Sept. 7, 2007. This bridge was having some work done to it.