Illinois Department of Transportation—Interstate 55 and Lake Shore Drive Interchange

Millions of visitors travel to Chicago’s lakefront each year via the interchange between Interstate 55 and Lake Shore Drive. Connecting a major interstate and an urban expressway, the interchange is a vital link to Lake Michigan, McCormick Place, Soldier Field, Museum Campus, University of Chicago and more.  But this critical piece of infrastructure had become a burden. Pavement and deck failures were almost routine, requiring emergency lane closures that could last for days. These occurrences were not only a stress on the day-to-day commuting public, but created major headaches for event planning at the institutions along iconic Lake Shore Drive. To combat this, IDOT utilized an innovative construction technique that provided some major relief.

Not included in the original design, a temporary bridge was built to accommodate inbound I-55 traffic to southbound Lake Shore Drive and avoid closures and detours. The approach was a new one to IDOT in the Chicago area: use one of the existing bridges, jacked into place, to span a gap between the new bridge and the old bridge. Now complete, the new $135 million interchange has improved a critical connecting point for the area and greatly improved traffic flow for both Chicago residents and visitors alike.