DOUGLAS — A tall, sleek white bridge designed to allow cyclists and pedestrians to cross Lake Shore Drive at 35th Street opened Wednesday evening.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel was on hand, along with other elected officials, city transportation officials and community members, to celebrate the opening of the city's first suspension bridge spanning the southern portion of Lake Shore Drive.
35th st bridge is now open. The only suspension bridge in the city, CDOT officials said. pic.twitter.com/JKqeCffmDI— Evan F. Moore (@evanFmoore) November 10, 2016
“Chicago is only as strong as its neighborhoods, and the investment we’ve made in this beautiful new bridge strengthens Bronzeville and makes it easier for residents to enjoy our unparalleled lakefront,” said Emanuel. “This project will improve the health of the community and its residents. It also brightens the future of Bronzeville and builds on the great momentum we’re seeing throughout the community.”
Unlike the narrower bridge that previously straddled the drive at 35th Street, the suspension bridge is 20 feet wide and fully accessible to people with disabilities, city Transportation Department spokesman Mike Claffey said.
A rendering of the bridge. (Courtesy of James McHugh Construction Company)
Like San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, the weight of the 35th Street bridge is suspended over the roadway "by cables, ropes or chains from two tall towers."
Plans for the bridge first were announced in 2014, and Emanuel said it was designed to allow Bronzeville residents to get to the lakefront without traveling to 31st Street or 39th Street.
Ald. Sophia King (4th) echoed Emanuel sentiments, but also mentioned the historical aspect of the bridge's location.
“The 4th Ward is immensely honored to house the only single-cable suspension bridge in the city of Chicago, which will serve as a passageway to one of our community’s most prized assets — the lakefront,” King said. “Moreover, the bridge is anchored only steps away from the Stephen Douglas Tomb and Memorial, which further underscores the depth of distinction and historical significance.”
The bridge was built with $18 million from the federal government and $5 million in state funds.
The only other suspension bridge in Chicago crosses the Chicago River between Lincoln Park and Wicker Park.
The bridge also features architectural and safety lighting, landscaping enhancements and pedestrian plazas on both ends, Claffey said.
The bridge stands about 17 feet above the drive, officials said.
By the end of 2018, city officials plan to build a pedestrian bridge at 41st Street and 43rd Street, and replace vehicular bridges at 31st Street and 39th Street, Claffey said.
Michelle Wall, a Bronzeville resident, said she thinks the bridge will be a great addition to the community.
"It's nice that we have this addition. We have 31st and 39th [streets]; it's great that people can enjoy the lakefront from this side of Bronzeville," Wall said. "It's a great way for us to get to the lake even more from bikes and even more."
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