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Kankakee Railroad Bridge

Kankakee Railroad Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: May 8, 2010

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (Illinois Central) Over Kankakee River and River Street
Kankakee: Kankakee County, Illinois: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1919 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
90 Feet (27.4 Meters)
Structure Length
510 Feet (155.4 Meters)
Roadway Width
64 Feet (19.51 Meters)
6 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This beautiful bridge is an impressive and excellent example of of a reinforced concrete railroad bridge. In general, railroads seem to have preferred metal bridge types for larger bridges and either metal or stone for smaller bridges. In general concrete seems to have been most commonly used with railroad over highway overpasses. There are some exceptions, particularly with specific railroad companies. However, on the whole, concrete arch bridges such as this one are relatively uncommon. They also appears to be particularly rare in the northeastern Illinois region. This adds to the significance of the bridge. As a six span example that appears to retain excellent historic integrity, this is a particularly noteworthy example. An open spandrel design that includes architectural detailing makes this an aesthetically pleasing bridge as well. This bridge was apparently completed 1919 as a four track railroad bridge. Today the bridge only carries a single railroad track, however the bridge does remain active for trains. According to The New international year book, Volume 1923 the bridge replaced a three span metal truss bridge. A construction technique often called "half-width construction" today was used to build this bridge, where half of the new bridge was built, then the previous bridge demolished to make way for the second half of the bridge to be constructed. The article is shown below:

"Kankakee Bridge Of Illinois Central R. R. An interesting project completed during the year was a wide bridge for the Illinois Central Railroad at Kankakee, Ill., built as two bridges without interval by the use of the same equipment twice and two separate set-ups of the same centres. This was a 4-track, 6-arch railway bridge, with five 90-foot and one 60-foot barrel arch spans, with spandrel walls and a deck of precast slabs. It is 64 feet wide, face to face at arch rings, and including the piers the structure required about 16,000 cubic yards of concrete. It took the place of a single-track, three-span steel truss bridge, and construction of the new bridge was undertaken without interfering with the old. After the first half of the bridge was completed, tracks were shifted from the steel bridge to it, the older structure was removed, and the remainder of the new bridge was then built." -The New international year book, Volume 1923


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