Bridges are a modern marvel that we really don't think about too often.

We use them daily but how many of us know how they work? What is the difference between a cantilever bridge and a suspension bridge?

This is technically a YouTube video for kids about bridges, but I'm guessing that the majority of the population doesn't know half of the information it contains.

When you stop and think about it, it's pretty amazing that we don't have more problems with bridges.

It's not a huge secret that some of the infrastructure we have in Illinois could use a little bit of TLC, just look at some of the potholes and crumbling streets we have around the state.

So does the state of Illinois roads reflect on how safe our bridges are?

Kind of.

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) has a state by state breakdown of every "structurally deficient" bridge in the country, and Illinois, especially Cook County, shows up frequently.

We'll get to where the worst bridge is in a minute but I want to take a second and share some Illinois bridge information that I discovered while researching this blog.

I was very surprised to find out that with 26,846 bridges, Illinois ranks third in the nation for number of bridges. Illinois trails only Ohio (27,151) and Texas (55,175) and narrowly edged out California by about 1,000 bridges. How Illinois has more bridges than California confuses me, but I'll trust the data. The state with the least amount of bridges is Delaware with 875.

So Illinois has a lot of bridges, but how many are a problem. According to ARTBA, 9% of Illinois bridges are structurally deficient. Not great, but it's exactly the same as our neighbors to the west, Missouri, and a far cry from the worst in the state. West Virginia, America's bastion of infrastructure, is a mess with 20%, or 1 out of every 5 bridges needing immediate attention.

So what bridge holds the title of being the most dilapidated in the state? Make your way to a White Sox game and you'll probably go right over it.

As the Dan Ryan (90/94) heads south around the city, the expressway has a slight bend right before you get to where the White Sox play. The stretch between Stewart Ave and 28th has been designated the worst section of bridge in Illinois.

Joe Dredge
Joe Dredge

The website has a complete history of this bridge and it hasn't been this bad since the mid 2000s.

Joe Dredge
Joe Dredge

When will the state fix it? That's a great question. It, like most everything else, comes down to money. According to the ARTBA, the estimated cost to repair that section of the Dan Ryan would cost $35,000,000 AND cause traffic headaches for more than a year.

I wouldn't hold my breath on it getting fixed anytime soon.

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