2013 Fall Bridge Lift Begins Wednesday Morning

Wednesday morning marks the first day of the city’s annual fall bridge lift and drivers caught by a raised bridge should expect long waits.

At 9:30 AM, just after the morning rush hour subsides, the Lake Shore Drive bridge will be raised to allow the season’s first flotilla of sail boats to enter the Chicago River on their way to dry dock storage according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.

Every Wednesday at 9:30 AM and Saturday mornings at 9, from late September through mid November, a pair of city bridge tenders raise the 27 movable bridges sequentially along the main and south branches of the river to allow these tall masted ships to pass without obstruction.

The city schedules these “boat runs” in the spring and fall for boat captains to move their recreational boats from Lake Michigan to winter storage locations along the North and South Branches of the river.

“The lifting of Chicago’s iconic movable river bridges every fall marks the closing of the boating season,” said CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein via press release. “The City coordinates with local boat storage yards each year to create a schedule that accommodates boats while creating the least amount of impact on downtown street traffic.”

The boat run begins at the lakefront with the Lake Shore Drive bridge and ends at the Ashland Ave. bridge on the South Branch of the river.

According to CDOT each bridge lasts 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.

The entire bridge lift takes anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours according to CDOT.

2013 Fall Bridge Lift Schedule

  • Wednesday, September 25th, 9:30 AM
  • Saturday, September 28th, 9:00 AM
  • Wednesday, October 2nd, 9:30 AM
  • Saturday, October 5th, 9:00 AM
  • Wednesday, October 9th, 9:30 AM
  • Saturday, October 12th, 9:00 AM
  • Wednesday, October 16th, 9:30 AM
  • Saturday, October 19th, 9:00 AM
  • Wednesday, October 23rd, 9:30 AM
  • Saturday, October 26th, 9:00 AM
  • Wednesday, October 30th, 9:30 AM
  • Saturday, November 2nd, 9:00 AM
  • Wednesday, November 6th, 9:30 AM
  • Saturday, November 9th, 9:00 AM
  • Saturday, November 16th, 9:00 AM

4 Responses to 2013 Fall Bridge Lift Begins Wednesday Morning

  1. nonya says:

    other than LSD, why would anyone be delayed 15-30 minutes? It’s a grid! Go down a couple blocks.

  2. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    If a bridge is up for 12 minutes, like the city says, then a delay of 15 minutes would make sense in most places. LSD, Michigan (north of the bridge) and Ashland, just off the top of my head, don’t have many places to turn off within a few blocks of the bridge and therefore would be on the longer end of the 15-30 minute range.

    I got stuck on the entrance ramp at Ohio off the Kennedy over the Chicago River for close to 30 minutes when the bridge was up there. So, yes, while 30 minutes is at the upper end of the range, it can happen.

  3. Portage Pat says:

    Keep your bitchin to a minimum once upon a time a bridge would be raised at anytime a boat required it. So come fall getting into the Loop was like a game in avoiding the openings which were random and never announced. I once sat on the ramp at Congress while a single boat a recreational sailboat shutdown the street. I should probably mention they’re use to be bridge tender for every bridge. I think it was a 24/7 position but I’m not sure.

  4. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    Thanks for the comment Portage Pat!

    I’m not bitchin’, I’m just reporting to warn drivers of potential delays.

    You’re right, these bridge lifts are ultimately more efficient than raising the bridge for every darn boat that comes down the river.

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