Chicago’s Fall Bridge Lift Season Begins Saturday

As temperatures drop and the summer wanes, the beautiful sail boats docked at lakefront slips will officially begin their annual exodus beginning Saturday morning.

Every spring and fall, the Chicago Department of Transportation schedules approximately six weeks of bridge lifts to allow these high masted recreational water craft to return to dry dock storage via the main and south branches of the Chicago River. City bridge tenders will raise each lift bridge for approximately 8-12 minutes at a time to allow the ships to pass under the raised bridge and hopefully minimize impacts to traffic.

This year the first bridge lift will be Saturday, September 18th and will take place every Wednesday and Saturday until October 3oth. This year, because or repair work on the Chicago River locks, there will be no bridge lifts scheduled for November.

The process will begin at 9:00 AM on Saturdays and 9:30 AM on Wednesdays starting at the Lake Shore Drive bridge and proceeding away from Lake Michigan down the main branch of the river and then continuing down the south branch of the river.  The last bridge raised will be the Ashland Ave. bridge.

This means downtown bridges will go up, and street traffic will be impacted some time between approximately 9 and 11:30 AM.

“Since it’s impossible to know when a given bridge will lift, motorists should be patient if they have to stop for a lift,” CDOT spokesperson Brian Steele previously explained last spring. “CDOT always attempts to complete the lifts as quickly as possible. And earlier in the boating season there are typically fewer boats, which means the lifts are shorter.”

So if you’re in a hurry to get downtown during this time frame, leave a little earlier than normal on Wednesdays and Saturdays or just build in some extra drive time just in case.

Here’s a handy, printable calendar of the Chicago’s fall bridge lift schedule to tape to your refrigerator or to your dashboard.

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