- May 2, 2011
Wacker Drive in Chicago was originally built in the 1920s; however, it was originally proposed by the architect Daniel Burnham as part of his 1909 Plan for Chicago. This 2-level structure serves as a major thoroughfare through Chicago, running along the south side of the Main Branch of the Chicago River and the East Side of the south branch of the Chicago River. Originally, the upper level was intended for local traffic, while the lower level was for through traffic and trucks, servicing buildings along the road. Currently, the two roadways handle over 70,000 vehicles per day.
By the early 2000s, the original upper deck was crumbling. A substantial project to replace the road began in 2001 with a $200 million Phase I project. Phase I consisted of demolishing the 1.2-mile east-west portion of the 2-mile double-decker roadway. The $300 million Phase II project that replaces the north-south section of the roadway commenced in 2010.
According to Stan Kaderbek, Deputy Commissioner for Bridges, each level features three lanes in each direction with a service lane. A specially developed flat-slab, longitudinally post-tensioned, reinforced, high-performance concrete cast-in-place system will comprise the mat on both levels. A 2-1/2-in. latex-modified-concrete overlay will be added to the driving surface as a wearing course. Epoxy-coated reinforcing steel was used throughout the structure to provide corrosion protection. The road deck was designed for a life of 75 to 100 years.