This bridge is an early example of a bridge whose design did not use any of the v-lacing and lattice that was popular in decades past and still occasionally used in the 1950s, instead using rolled beams or built-up beams of more simple appearance. This tends to make this bridge look newer than it is, perhaps more like a bridge from the 1970s. The bridge also has an overall design that makes it appear somewhat more modern because of its slender steel piers and shallow rise of trusses over the roadway.
The bridge and viaduct system including all approaches totals 7.8 miles in length. The listed navigational vertical clearance for the bridge is 125 feet. The bridge's 650 foot main span is flanked by 325 foot spans on each side.
The bridge's toll plaza retains much of its original overall appearance and design, something not frequently seen on toll roads and bridges.
The Mount Vernon Bridge Company, Bethlehem Steel, and U.S. Steel (American Bridge) all played a role in fabricating parts of the bridge and approach system. The designed was JE Greiner Company, which was a firm created by John Edwin Greiner. He worked with the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad until leaving to form his own consulting company around 1908. He opened offices in Baltimore, Maryland as well as Chicago and New York City. John Greiner and his firm were noted for the construction of large and long-span bridges, like the Skyway Bridge. One of J.E. Greiner Company's more contemporary noteworthy achievements was the invention of the single-point urban interchange (SPUI) in Florida in the 1970s. The company remained an independent business until 1996, until the company, then called simply Greiner Engineering, became part of URS Corporation.
The bridge was originally built and owned by the City of Chicago. The bridge and the approaching roadway leading up to it were all legally described as a bridge because the city's laws allowed the city to own toll bridges but not toll roads. In a physical sense much of the approaching roadway is indeed a bridge, with the Chicago Skyway essentially configured as an elevated road. The toll project was never as profitable for them as hoped. In 2006, the publically owned bridge was sold by the City of Chicago and it became foreign-owned private property owned under a 99 year lease by Spanish and Australian interests who formed a company called Skyway Concession Company to own the bridge. This company continues to provide tolled public access to the bridge and roadway in much the same way that the city once did. It is unclear what this ownership change might mean for the preservation of this bridge.
This bridge is extremely difficult to photograph on land, therefore requiring a boat to get a full photo-documentation of the bridge. Thanks to Tom Winkle for providing boat transportation to assist in the photo-documentation of this historic bridge.
The 1954 Chicago Annual Report of the Public Works Department states that the design speed of the Chicago Skyway Toll Bridge including its approaches were designed for speeds of 60 miles per hour. However, the posted speed limit over the bridge today is only 45 miles per hour.
Main PlaqueCALUMET SKYWAY
CITY OF CHICAGO
RICHARD J. DALEY
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
GEORGE L. DeMENT . . . . COMMISSIONER
JOHN G. DUBA . . . ADMINISTRATIVE ENGINEER
JOHN C. MELANIPHY . CORPORATION COUNSEL
JOHN F. WARD . . . . . PURCHASING AGENT
CARL H. CHATTERS . . . . . . COMPTROLLER
DeLEUW, CATHER & COMPANY
Above: Historical advertisement featuring bridge.
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