Prepare to share the road with mega-beams
Drivers on some local tollways and expressways should prepare to share the road with some concrete behemoths in the coming weeks.
Starting Tuesday, more than 230 concrete beams weighing 115 tons will be trucked from Wisconsin to support a new northbound Mile Long Bridge on the Central Tri-State Tollway.
The beams that stretch up to 218 feet long will be trucked on heavy-load semitrailers with an Illinois State Police escort between 4 a.m. and noon weekdays.
The Illinois portion of the route extends east from Wisconsin on the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway, south on I-290, south on the Veterans Memorial Tollway, north on I-55 to Route 45 and from there to the construction site near Willow Springs.
Beam delivery will depend on the weather but about 40 are expected to lumber through the area in January traveling at low speeds, officials said.
The remainder, plus concrete and steel beams, will continue throughout the year. Schedules can be found at the tollway's Daily Construction Alerts website.
Although it's called the Mile Long Bridge, two separate structures are replacing the original for a cost of about $450 million.
The northbound bridge is estimated at $184.6 million and is being built near the original structure, erected in 1958.
When the first bridge is completed in 2020, northbound traffic will be shifted to it. Then, the old bridge will be demolished, and a southbound one put up in its place. Southbound vehicles will be moved over when the second new bridge is finished in 2023.
The entire project, including demolition and construction, is estimated to cost up to $450 million. It's part of a massive $4 billion widening of the Central Tri-State (I-294) between Rosemont and Oak Lawn.