Great Chicago Fire Slows Down Road Construction

November 7, 2016

A $134 million Illinois Department of Transportation project on Chicago's Lake Shore Drive is experiencing unforeseen delays in part due to recycling done in 1871.

Workers drilling holes for new pillars on the east side of Lake Shore Drive have turned up bricks, wooden timbers, ash and a concrete stairway left over from the fire that destroyed most of the city of Chicago in October 1871, said Anthony Quigley, IDOT project implementation engineer. Debris from the historic fire was used as landfill along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Asked whether he thought the finds were interesting, IDOT resident engineer Eric Ray said they were "annoying."

"It slows down the work. We look at it and we say, 'Oh, cool,' and then we say, 'Oh, crap,'" Ray said.

IDOT's  I-55 and Lake Shore Drive reconstruction project is atypical in several ways but IDOT is overcoming the challenges and on schedule. Read more about how engineers are using the old to build the new in the Chicago Tribune here.