One of the things this world needs most is the kind souls who, when crossing a bridge, say ‘it would be very difficult to cross if it weren’t for this bridge’ and thank both the bridge and those who built it!” — Mehmet Murat Ildan, Turkish Playwright.

Why is it that no matter how common bridges are in the built environment, they still manage to inspire awe? Maybe because as a structure, bridges remain impressive engineering feats combined with architectural or aesthetic considerations, whether historic, ornate, sleek, or functional. Also, as impressive as the bridge itself is, often that which it is bridging, some sort of divide that could not otherwise be crossed, is equally as breathtaking.

Civiltech’s Structural Design team and Phase III Resident Engineers specialize in providing analysis, design, and construction administration services for bridges. We have planned, designed, and administered the construction of a multitude of bridges ranging from pedestrian and bicycle bridges to complex expressway bridges. Recently, staff weighed in on their favorite Civiltech bridge project.

“I’d have to say that my favorite bridge so far is the Nell’s Foundation North Bridge. It is an attractive, curved pedestrian bridge designed to blend into its wooded setting. A 3D analysis was required for the design of the curved steel superstructure.” Greg Hatlestad, P.E., S.E., Director of Structural Design speaking about the Nell’s Woodland – North Bridge in Ottawa, IL, for clients Serena Sturm Architects Limited and Nell’s Woodland Foundation.

Phil Hutchinson, PLA, LEED AP, Director of Civiltech’s Landscape Architecture Department named the Lincoln Village Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge for Chicago Department of Transportation as his favorite, saying, “In addition to providing a critical bike/pedestrian connection, the project includes an Eruv and has a really crazy Chicago politics backstory.” The bridge is the final link in a shared-use path that crosses four municipalities, from Chicago to Evanston, along the North Shore Channel. The Eruv is a simple black metal “gate,” and the political backstory is well documented, including this article:

Jim Ewers, P.E., Director of Construction Engineering Services named the Cherry Valley Fly-Over Bridge for the Illinois Tollway. The bridge was part of a complete redesign of the interchange geometrics between two interstates, I-90 and I-39. A tight radius circular ramp was replaced with a quarter mile long flyover structure. The flyover bridge has curves and skewed beams contributing to its complexity.

“My favorite Civiltech bridge is the bicycle and pedestrian bridge that was the centerpiece of the Middlefork Savanna Bridge and Trail Connection Project.” Civiltech’s Content Strategist, Tamara Gaumond, speaking about this Lake County Forest Preserve project. “I love that the design incorporated existing historic abutments. Also, the challenges the Resident Engineer worked through setting the bridge are a great back story.” Read more about it here:

“I enjoyed working on the IL Route 60 bridge early in my career because it was a project with a lot of ‘firsts’ for me.” Resident Engineer, Phil Hurst, P.E., speaking about IDOT’s IL Route 60 over I‐94 completed in 2008. Phil has administered construction on many Civiltech bridge projects and said that this project “was a dynamic civil engineering project that required coordination between IDOT, local municipalities, and the Tollway, who were concurrently reconstructing I‐94 directly beneath us. I was introduced to IDOT’s documentation process, which included tracking project quantities and generating weekly reports. And during the project, I believe I got to see every Chicago Bears player driving in to Halas Hall which is located off of Field Drive at the east end of the project. The list of ‘firsts’ in this project helped me grow throughout my professional career.”

Jack Ringness, P.E., offered the straw bridges built by Embarc students as his favorite. Civiltech staff have partnered with Embarc, a Chicago non-profit organization to provide learning opportunities to Chicago Public Schools high school students to inspire and prepare them for college and career success. In one session staff hosted students from Fenger High School in our Chicago office for a bridge building competition. The students constructed bridges that spanned six inches, and the winning structure was determined by the structure’s ability to support a Styrofoam cup holding the largest amount of pennies.