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606's Milwaukee Avenue Bridge Work at Leavitt Kept Some Neighbors Awake

By Alisa Hauser | March 17, 2014 12:09pm
 Initial work on the bridge at Milwaukee Avenue and Leavitt Street began on Friday and was complete by late afternoon Saturday.
Initial work on the bridge at Milwaukee Avenue and Leavitt Street began on Friday and was complete by late afternoon Saturday.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

BUCKTOWN —  Work to remove the concrete top of a steel bridge just north of Milwaukee Avenue and Leavitt Street was completed "more quickly than anticipated," a spokeswoman for the Trust for Public Land said on Monday.

Part of the Bloomingdale Trail — a 2.7-mile elevated walking, jogging and cycling path that will run through four Chicago neighborhoods — the bridge at Milwaukee Avenue and Bloomingdale Street is one of three overpass bridges that cross the trail.

Once all work is complete, the new bridge will use recycled steel from the current structure, feature an arch design and be one of the highlights of the Bloomingdale Trail, the centerpiece of The 606 "rails-to-trails" project.

 Photos of the Milwaukee Avenue bridge over the Bloomingdale Trail.
Milwaukee Avenue Bridge
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Work started on Friday and ended at 4 p.m. Sunday, resulting in a street closure and re-routing of traffic on a two-block stretch of Milwaukee Avenue between Leavitt and Oakley. Crews worked quickly, even with Saturday evening's strong wind gusts and snowfall.

In a written statement, Beth White, Region Office Director for Trust for Public Land, the city's lead private partner in the project, thanked neighbors of the trail "who have been exceedingly patient and supportive throughout this weekend and the entire construction process."

White said one neighbor came out to the site on Sunday to give corned beef and cabbage to the construction crews.

Kerri Stojak, a staffer in Ald. Scott Waguespack's (32nd) office said that the office received "no angry messages" or complaints from neighbors about the weekend construction.

Hector Lopez, 27, rents an apartment with his wife in the 1800 block of North Milwaukee Avenue and said he was initially kept awake by the noise.

"At first we weren't able to sleep but we got used to it," Lopez said.

Lopez, who moved to the area in September, said on Saturday that the trail has been closed off to construction the entire time he has lived near the overpass. He said he is looking forward to the trail opening so he can use it.

Vera Wiltrout, a Wicker Park resident and her husband, Christian Wiltrout, were watching the construction from inside of ''Park 567'' on Saturday.

Many pedestrians and cyclists were using the park as a detour to pass through the construction and continue north or south on Milwaukee Avenue.

"I am excited about the trail, it is hard to find somewhere to teach a kid how to ride a bike," said Wiltrout, who plans to cycle with her children, ages 6 and 3, on the trail.

The next steps at Milwaukee Avenue and Bloomingdale will include include assessing, repairing and painting the steel bridge structure before raising the bridge to improve clearance for vehicles, a spokeswoman for the Trust for Public Land said.

Support arches will eventually be added to the bridge and in the final stages, the center piers will be removed underneath the bridge, allowing for better traffic flow for vehicles and bicycles.

In coming weeks, the bridge at Ashland Avenue and Bloomingdale will be moved into Walsh Park for assessment, and then moved into place at Western.

The bridge at Western Avenue was demolished and removed March 7-9.