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Teamwork delivers quick fix for fire-damaged bridge

A Sept. 29 fire forced the emergency closure of the outbound Dan Ryan Expressway (Interstate 90/94) ramp to the outbound Stevenson Expressway (Interstate 55) in Chicago. It’s not just a ramp, but a two-lane bridge that supports an average daily traffic volume of 26,000.

By 10 p.m., less than two hours after the fire was reported, District 1 Bridge Field Engineer Tom Condreva inspected the damage and recommended the ramp closed pending structural review. District 1 then contacted the central office Bureau of Bridges & Structures to request a consultant to determine what could be done to open some or all of the ramp as well as prepare permanent repair plans.

The consultant inspected the bridge the next morning and determined that interim repairs would allow the left lane to reopen. The right lane would take more time. Day Labor, IDOT’s in-house construction unit, sprang into action after the assessment.

“A preliminary plan was made allowing us to procure material and mobilize equipment to the site the following week,” said Engineer of Day Labor Michael Walton. “By Wednesday, Oct. 5, our crew was able to straighten steel and place steel shims. By Thursday, Oct. 6, the temporary timber support needed to allow the district to get one lane of the structure back open was in place.”

Thanks to the work of Day Labor the left lane of the ramp reopened on Oct. 8, only nine days after the fire. While damage to the right lane was more extensive, with repairs expected to take six to eight months, the speedy restoration of the left lane ensured motorists could continue to travel safely through the area.

“Day Labor is always happy to provide our crews and resources to help tackle emergency repairs,” said Walton. “This type of repair was only possible through the joint coordination efforts made by the District 1 Operations Staff and the Central Bridge Office. We very much appreciate their assistance in getting the repair completed.

“One of the huge assets of having Day Labor as an internal construction operation is the ability of our section to coordinate with IDOT and contract engineers in determining needs, procuring material, fabricating steel when needed and sending crews to address emergency repairs. The efficiency at which this type of issue can be addressed would otherwise be very difficult to accomplish.”