Tri-Level Bridge opens ahead of schedule

Reconstruction of the ramp carrying traffic from the northbound Tri-State Tollway (I-294) to the westbound Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) in April. Now open to traffic, this ramp is the final piece of the $13 million Tri-Level Bridge Project.

The Tri-Level Bridge carrying traffic from the northbound Tri-State Tollway (I-294) to the westbound Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) in Chicago and the surrounind area and the ramp from eastbound I-190 to westbound I-90 are now open to traffic, several weeks ahead of schedule and in time for the Fourth of July holiday, according to the Illinois Tollway Authority.

The $13 million project is also on budget and expected to be complete this fall.

“The interchange linking the Tri-State Tollway to the Jane Addams Tollway is one of the most complicated on our system,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “The Tri-Level Bridge is at the heart of it – carrying three individual layers of traffic travelling in divergent directions, including traffic to and from O’Hare.”

The Tri-Level Bridge Project began in 2011 with the reconstruction of the bridge carrying southbound I-294 traffic to eastbound I-90. Work in 2012 will complete the project with the reconstruction of the bridge carrying northbound I-294 traffic to westbound I-90 and the ramp from eastbound I-190 to westbound I-90. It is the first full replacement of the bridge decks since the structure opened in 1958.

Nearly 28 professional and construction staff worked on the project each day. The project required nearly one mile of new bridge deck with 1.3 million pounds of steel reinforcement bars and 192 new precast, pre-stressed concrete beams, nearly 5,000 cubic yards of concrete and more than 3,200 tons of asphalt.

This year’s work began in March with full closure of the bridge and ramp and a detour. This construction plan enabled the Tollway to complete the work more safely and efficiently than if the bridge and ramp remained open to traffic during construction, according to the Tollway Authority. On average, more than 22,000 vehicles use the Tri-Level Bridge daily.

“We want to thank our customers for their patience during this critical reconstruction project,” said Lafleur in a press release. “Closing the bridge and putting a detour in place allowed us to complete the work in half the time it would have taken had we kept the bridge open to traffic.”

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Without having to maintain a lane for traffic during construction, the Tollway was able to complete the bridge deck work using a “single-pour” method, avoiding a joint running down the middle of the bridge, making the bridge stronger and more resistant to traffic vibration while concrete was curing, all resulting in less maintenance on the bridge in the long run.

As a result, the Tollway will save nearly $1 million over the life of the bridge, allowing the cost savings to be applied to other roadway improvements on the Tollway, according to the Illinois Tollway Authority. Removal of bridge closure and detour signage is currently underway and will continue overnight tonight and Friday when work will have the least impact on traffic on I-294. Vehicles continuing to use the detour route during this three-day process will not be charged double tolls.

The Tri-Level Bridge Project includes replacement of concrete beams, bridge deck and bearings and concrete repair on the existing bridge substructure. With the majority of construction complete, remaining work includes painting the steel bridge beams, restoring and grading the infields below the bridge and completing pier repairs.