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Columbus Drive Bridge

William P. Fahey Bridge



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Columbus Drive Bridge

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Bridge Documented: October 2010

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

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Key Facts
Bridge Name Facility Carried / Feature Intersected Location Structure Type Construction Date and Builder/Engineer
Columbus Drive Bridge
William P. Fahey Bridge
Columbus Drive Over Chicago River Chicago: Cook County, Illinois Metal Non-Historic, Movable: Double Leaf Bascule (Fixed Trunnion) and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed 1982 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown and Engineer/Design: City of Chicago
Technical Facts
Main Span Length Structure Length Roadway Width Main Spans Approach Spans NBI Number
269 Feet (82 Meters) 389 Feet (118.6 Meters) 90 Feet (27.4 Meters) 1 4 16610118759

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

Columbus Drive Bridge

Columbus Drive Bridge ModelNote: This modern bridge is not historic. This page is provided for reasons of comparison and continuity of downtown Chicago listings only.

This bridge was built in 1982. HistoricBridges.org has a strict policy to not include any bridge newer than 1970, however a rare exception was made with two bridges in the downtown Loop area of Chicago so that those planning a tour of the Loop bridges can get information on all Loop bridges from HistoricBridges.org and also not be confused by gaps in the tour.

Including this non-historic bridge on HistoricBridges.org is also an opportunity to make a comparison to the historic bridges. There is a stark difference between even the younger 1960s bascule bridges in Chicago and this non-historic bridge. The extremely simplistic superstructure of the bridge as well as a lack of adornment on bridgetender buildings makes the modern bridges rather plain and non-descript compared to the intricate beauty of the historic bascule bridges in Chicago. This is a trend seen in all bridges nationwide. Beauty and aesthetics are rarely given genuine attention in modern bridge construction. This is why the preservation of historic bridges is essential, since beyond the heritage value of the bridges, historic bridges are so much more beautiful. That said, in comparison to other bridges built in the 1980s, this bridge does have a better than average appearance as compared to other bridges such as the Randolph Street Bridge.

This bridge was dedicated to William P. Fahey a police officer shot in the line of duty in 1982.

Main Plaque




Commissioner of Public Works

City Engineer

Asst. Chief Engineer
Deputy Comr. of Pub. Wks.

Chief Construction Engr.

Chief Bridge Engineer

Project Manager

Resident Engineer

AISC Award Plaque



Awarded in 1984 by



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Historic Bridges of Chicago and Cook County

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Chicago and Cook County are home to one of the largest collections of historic bridges in the country, and no other city in the world has more movable bridges. HistoricBridges.org is proud to offer the most extensive coverage of historic Chicago bridges on the Internet.

Chicago / Cook County Bridge News

October 2014 - A visit to Chicago revealed that the Van Buren Street Pedestrian Bridge was not demolished, but instead extensively rehabbed. The railings are new, but replicate the original design. The concrete encasement was removed and not replaced, and instead the exposed riveted steel beams have been painted. The riveted beams look quite nice, and given the condition of the bridge prior to the project this seems like a good outcome. In other news, the rehabilitation and repainting of the La Salle Street Bridge is ongoing, and the project to extend the Chicago Riverwalk under additional bridges on the Main Branch is continuing.

September 2014 - Chicago's dubious distinction of offering numerous boat tours that pass under the bridges but offer narration only of the buildings has ended with the start of a Wendella tour that focuses on bridges! Information is here.

July 29, 2013 - A project study has been initiated for the reconstruction of historic North Lake Shore Drive. This project puts a large number of historic bridges at risk for demolition and replacement. However, it could also be an opportunity to rehabilitate the bridges. Visit the project website.

May 15, 2013 - The Ashland Avenue Bridge over North Branch Chicago River has been recommended for Chicago Landmark designation by the Chicago Art Deco Society.

April 30, 2013 - Illinois Landmarks has included Chicago's Bascule Bridges as one of their Top 10 Most Endangered Historic Places. View The Official Page.

General Chicago / Cook County Bridge Resources

Chicago's Bridges - By Nathan Holth, author of HistoricBridges.org, this book provides a discussion of the history of Chicago's movable bridges, and includes a virtual tour discussing all movable bridges remaining in Chicago today. The book includes dozens of full color photos. Only $9.95 U.S! ($11.95 Canadian). Order Now Direct From The Publisher!

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Overview of Chicago Bascule Bridges (HAER Data Pages, PDF)

Chicago Loop Bridges - Chicago Loop Bridges is another website on the Internet that is a great companion to the HistoricBridges.org coverage of the 18 movable bridges within the Chicago Loop. This website includes additional information such as connections to popular culture, overview discussions and essays about Chicago's movable bridges, additional videos, and current news and events relating to the bridges.

Additional Online Articles and Resources - This page is a large gathering of interesting articles and resources that HistoricBridges.org has uncovered during research, but which were not specific to a particular bridge listing.


Photos and Videos: Columbus Drive Bridge

Available Photo Galleries and Videos

Click on a thumbnail or gallery name below to visit that particular photo gallery. If videos are available, click on a video name to view and/or download that particular video.

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A collection of overview and detail photos. For the best visual immersion and full detail, or for use as a desktop background, this gallery presents the photos for this bridge in the original digital camera resolution.
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Mobile Optimized Gallery
A collection of overview and detail photos. View the photos for this bridge in a reduced size which is useful for mobile/smartphone users, modem (dial-up) users, or those who do not wish to wait for the longer download times of the full-size photos. Alternatively, view this photo gallery using a popup slideshow viewer (great for mobile users) by clicking the link below.
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Bridge Being Raised
Full Motion Video
Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.

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