New, more accessible 43rd Street bridge opens in Bronzeville: ‘It’s a good thing’

The rebuilt 43rd Street pedestrian bridge that leads to Burnham Park features bike lanes and ramps to accommodate cyclists and people who use wheelchairs.

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A pedestrian stands on the 43rd Street Pedestrian Bridge, which connects East 43rd Street and South Oakenwald Avenue in the Bronzeville neighborhood with the Lakefront Trail, after a ribbon cutting ceremony, Wednesday, April 26, 2023.

A pedestrian looks down from the new 43rd Street Pedestrian Bridge connecting East 43rd Street and South Oakenwald Avenue in Bronzeville with the Lakefront Trail after a Wednesday ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A new wheelchair and bicycle accessible bridge over DuSable Lake Shore Drive opened on the South Side Wednesday morning to help the surrounding communities better access the lakefront.

Steven Taylor was among the many residents who crossed the bridge hours after city officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the official opening. The 61-year-old took his dog Jackson, a young Bernedoodle, for a walk along the lakefront.

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“I’m glad that it’s finished, and it looks beautiful,” said Taylor, whose home is steps away from the bridge. “I think that more of the neighborhood will be able to enjoy the lakefront, so it’s a good thing.”

Taylor, who has lived in area most of his life, said he’s hopeful the bridge will raise the value of his property.

The rebuilt 43rd Street pedestrian bridge that leads to Burnham Park features bike lanes and ramps to accommodate cyclists and people who use wheelchairs. The old bridge failed to meet standards set by the the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 for accessible design.

A cyclist travels on the 43rd Street Pedestrian Bridge, which connects East 43rd Street and South Oakenwald Avenue in the Bronzeville neighborhood with the Lakefront Trail on Wednesday, April 26, 2023.

A cyclist rides Wednesday on the newly rebuilt 43rd Street Pedestrian Bridge, which connects East 43rd Street and South Oakenwald Avenue in Bronzeville with the Lakefront Trail.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“Our lakefront is an amenity that should be available to all residents from all neighborhoods at all times,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at the ceremony Wednesday. “This is another link for South Side residents to access our downtown neighborhood and all the neighborhoods beyond it that the Lakefront Trail connects to.”

The sleek, Lake Michigan-blue bridge is S-curved to echo the curves of the walkways in Burnham Park, city officials said. It was designed by AECOM, a national engineering firm, and Cordogan, Clark & Associates, a local architectural firm.

Attendees of a ribbon-cutting ceremony walk on the 43rd Street Pedestrian Bridge, which connects East 43rd Street and South Oakenwald Avenue in the Bronzeville neighborhood with the Lakefront Trail, Wednesday, April 26, 2023.

Attendees of Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony walk on the 43rd Street Pedestrian Bridge, which connects East 43rd Street and South Oakenwald Avenue in Bronzeville with the Lakefront Trail.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Fourth Ward Ald. Sophia King said the new bridge is a stark contrast from the old one that was only accessible by stairs.

“People who live here understand that there was a bridge here before, if you can call it that,” King said. “If a bridge can be a shack, that’s what it looked like.”

The project, first announced in November 2020, cost $36 million and was funded through a combination of state and federal dollars.

The old 43rd Street Pedestrian bridge as it was being demolished Feb. 9, 2021.

The old 43rd Street Pedestrian bridge as it was being demolished Feb. 9, 2021.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

“CDOT is excited to celebrate the completion of this project that will greatly improve access to and from Chicago’s lakefront for Bronzeville residents of all ages and levels of mobility,” Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gia Biagi said in a statement.

The bridge is the fourth of five built by CDOT to improve access to the lakefront from South Side neighborhoods. The fifth bridge will reconstruct a vehicular crossing at 31st Street.

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A pedestrian and a worker cross the rebuilt 43rd Street Pedestrian Bridge Wednesday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Contributing: Zac Clingenpeel

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