DOUGLAS — Drivers curving up the south portion of Lake Shore Drive will confront a sight that's relatively rare in Chicago: a suspension bridge.
Announced in 2014 as the first of five new bridges being built or replaced over the drive, the tall, sleek white bridge will be open to cyclists and pedestrians by the end of the summer, according to officials from the Chicago Department of Transportation.
Unlike the narrower bridge that previously straddled the highway at 35th Street, the suspension bridge will be 20 feet wide and fully accessible to people with disabilities, transportation department spokesman Mike Claffey said. Like the Golden Gate Bridge, the weight of the 35th Street bridge is suspended over the roadway "by cables, ropes or chains from two tall towers."
The bridge will also feature "architectural and safety lighting," "landscaping enhancements" and pedestrian plazas on both ends, Claffey added.
The structure will only be the city's second suspension bridge, Claffey said, after the North Avenue Bridge, which leads cars over the Chicago River between Lincoln Park and Wicker Park.
Once finished, it will stand a little more than 17 feet above the drive, officials said. During construction, passing cars only have about 13 vertical feet of space, due to some temporary steel that was installed.
By the end of 2018, city officials also plan to replace the existing pedestrian bridge at 41st Street, build a new one at 43rd Street, and replace vehicular bridges at 31st Street and 39th Street, Claffey said.
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