Illinois to Begin Work on $50 Million Bridge

Mon May 04, 2009 - Midwest Edition

MORRIS, Ill. (AP) U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said the Department of Homeland Security has awarded nearly $50 million in stimulus money to improve a railroad bridge in northeastern Illinois.

The Elgin, Joliet & Eastern bridge, which spans the Illinois River near Morris, was built in 1895. Durbin said it’s the “biggest safety concern for ship traffic on the nearly 300-mile long” river.

Durbin said the bridge’s lift span allows only 120 ft. (36 m) of clearance for barge traffic, requiring careful approaches that slow traffic. A tow that’s three barges wide barely fits through the bridge.

He said the Coast Guard declared the bridge “unreasonably obstructive” and issued an order to alter it in 1995. Since then, engineering and design has been completed and construction is ready to begin.