Chicago’s Wells Street Bridge Turns 95

This past Saturday marked 95 years of service for Chicago’s Wells Street Bridge — the longest double-deck, double-leaf, bascule bridge built over the Chicago River, and only one of two remaining bascule bridges in the city that carries both automobile and transit (Chicago Transit Authority elevated trains) traffic on two levels.

Recent in-depth inspection and analysis of the 1922-built bridge revealed that substantial structural rehabilitation was required. As the bridge carries an average daily traffic of approximately 12,000 vehicles and serves nearly 4,500 pedestrians a day on the lower level and two major transit lines carrying 70,000 riders per day on the upper level, the crucial crossing had to be rehabilitated with minimal impact to its users.

The rehabilitation earned the bridge a Merit Award for Reconstruction in NSBA’s 2016 Prize Bridge Awards (see our June issue for more about the project and all of the award-winning bridges). For more about the history of the bridge, visit the Chicago Loop Bridges website.