LOGAN SQUARE — The removal of a century-old bridge on Saturday was completed ahead of schedule, much to the delight of residents who live or work along portion of a 2.7-mile elevated walking, jogging and cycling path that will run through four Chicago neighborhoods.
"We were woken up at 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning. I could feel vibrations in my bed, it was like 'The Exorcist.' My paintings were all crooked when I went downstairs," said Batya Hernandez.
Hernandez, an artist, lives with her teenager daughter in an arts building next to the trail at 2418 W. Bloomingdale Ave. in Logan Square.
Hernandez said she and her daughter, as well as other residents of the building, are "completely thrilled about the trail," which will become part of the city's 606 rails-to-trail's project set into motion over the summer.
"The upcoming work is the first step for improvements to the site, including a new bridge that will allow better traffic flow on Western and create an access point to the Bloomingdale Trail, the centerpiece of The 606 rails-to-trails project," the city said before construction began.
Crews worked around from Friday night to until early Sunday morning, according to Hernandez, who took pictures of the demolition on Saturday.
"You knew you were almost home when you saw the overpass. It looked like a tooth got pulled or something. It was historical. We feel like we are part of history in making," Hernandez said.
Jay Patel, a cashier at Snappy Mobil Gas Station at 1750 N. Western Ave., said that business was "very slow" due to the fact that Western Avenue just north of the gas station was closed in order for crews to take down the bridge.
"Sales were down at least 70 percent Saturday," Patel said.
Some cars were able to reach the gas station if they came from the south but not from the north, Patel said.
Despite the slow day, Patel praised the removal of the bridge.
"It's good, I like it. Much more open and airy. It looks better," Patel said.
The bridge created a bottleneck on Western, city officials said, as four lanes were reduced to two to pass through the viaduct.
Work on the bridge was originally scheduled for early February, but extreme weather and utility complications postponed the demolition.
Wiyada Ingier, a co-owner of Sticky Rice Chiang Mai at 1746 N. Western Ave., said she was glad the removal was completed within one day. Sticky Rice was "still busy on Saturday night," Ingier said.
Future work on Western will create improvements in the bridge, including improving traffic flow, making the sidewalks ADA compliant and the building of an access point to the Bloomingdale Trail.
More work in the area is coming: Milwaukee Avenue between Oakley and Leavitt in Bucktown will be closed next weekend.
Another upcoming project will affect traffic near Ashland Avenue and Cortland Street.
For weekly updates about the project, visit the606.org/category/newsforneighbors/