15 trucks hit new railroad bridge in Bensenville
A new railroad bridge over Irving Park and York roads in Bensenville opened with a bang this week after at least 15 trucks hit the structure, a fiasco officials worried might happen.
The Illinois Department of Transportation on Monday closed Irving Park Road (Route 19) at York for four months following collisions and traffic mayhem that occurred just after a bridge section that had been temporarily elevated was lowered.
The closure takes out part of a major artery used to transport freight to and from O'Hare International Airport and also impacts local businesses and commuters.
Until recently, a bridge section over Irving Park was resting on temporary piers and trucks could pass underneath, officials said. But when the bridge was placed on its permanent piers this weekend, the 12-foot-6-inch clearance wasn't high enough for semitrailers.
Multiple truck detour signs were posted this weekend noting the bridge height, but the message didn't register with some semitrailer drivers after the road reopened to other vehicles Sunday around 6 p.m., Bensenville officials said Tuesday.
Three semitrailers struck the bridge in the first two hours. A total of 15 collisions occurred on the busy street in the first 24 hours. Most involved trucks that were more than 13 feet high.
In one case, a truck was stuck under the bridge as a freight train neared, Bensenville Assistant Village Manager Dan Di Santo said. Fortunately, the train was going slowly and diverted in time.
No one was injured in any of collisions.
When village administrators sat down with IDOT last week, "none of us felt real confident" the detour signs would be obeyed, Di Santo said.
"Some truckers ignored the signs and got stuck under the bridge -- there's only so much you can do."
"IDOT had hundreds of signs in the area warning trucks and directing them accordingly, so the number of signs was not an issue," IDOT spokeswoman Carson Quinn said. "These signs were installed for some time."
The Illinois Department of Transportation is rebuilding the intersection, which was needed to make way for O'Hare expansion. The project involved moving the roadway and constructing a railroad bridge. The railroad tracks currently are at grade.
In the coming months, workers will install tracks on the bridge and lower Irving Park to accommodate trucks.
The way the road is engineered led to a perfect storm, said Village President Frank Soto, who pointed to traffic leaving O'Hare and turning onto Irving Park from Mannheim Road (Route 45).
"Once they turn off route 45 -- they're stuck," Soto said. "The way it's configured, there's no turnaround."
"It wasn't a question of if, it was a question of when," Soto said, adding he questions IDOT's timing. "We just didn't think it would happen the first day."
IDOT announced the Irving Park closure between York and South Access Road east of York will last for four months, when the bridge will be complete.
But administrators hope the work could be wrapped up sooner, which will help shops and services that lose customers.
"It's going to be painful for those businesses," Village Manager Michael Cassady said.
Detour routes are as follows:
• Eastbound Irving Park traffic should head north on to York/Elmhurst Road, east on Touhy Avenue (Route 72), east on Higgins Road (Route 72), and south on Mannheim.
• Westbound vehicles should head north on Mannheim, west on Higgins, west on Touhy and south on York/Elmhurst.
The intersection accommodates about 37,000 vehicles on Irving Park and 28,000 on York daily.