Fall Bridge Lift Season Begins Saturday Morning

As the last vestiges of summer evaporate into the cool of fall, the city’s annual migration of sail boats and subsequent bridge lifts kicks off this Saturday.

Starting at Lake Shore Drive, bridges along the Chicago River will be raised every Saturday morning starting at 9 and Wednesday mornings at 9:30, to allow these high masted vessels to travel from Lake Michigan down the main and south branches of the Chicago River to their winter dry docks.

Drivers trying to cross any of these city bridges on Saturday and Wednesday mornings face being delayed from reaching their destination for several minutes if they get caught by the bridge lift.

Chicago Department of Transportation spokesperson Brian Steele says the city tries to minimize the delays experienced by motorists during bridge lifts.

“We don’t have specific start/end times for each lift, as that depends on a number of factors: traffic conditions, number of boats, if there are any electrical/mechanical issues, etc.,” says Steele via email. ” Historically, average lift time is 8-12 minutes.”

But while the bridge is only up for these few minutes, drivers are usually delayed several minutes longer due to the traffic build up on each side of the bridge, possibly delaying drivers up to 15 – 30 minutes.

This means downtown bridges will go up, and street traffic will be impacted some time between approximately 9 and 11:30 AM. The last bridge on the bridge lift itinerary will be the Ashland Ave. bridge on the south side.

Although Steele says lifts earlier in the season tend to be shorter due to less boat traffic.

The fall bridge lift will last eight weeks until Saturday, November 12th.

Here’s the city’s complete fall bridge lift schedule.

One Response to Fall Bridge Lift Season Begins Saturday Morning

  1. Pete says:

    Tries to minimize wait times? In what way? How long would it take if wait times were not minimized?

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