Last year I wrote about running to the lake just ahead of the street-by-street drawbridge openings. I thought it’d be a fun thing to do with kids so yesterday we did the reverse. Being fall, the boats were all coming back in for winter docking and we were poised at 9AM at the Lake Shore Drive bridge. Up it went and in they came as we raced the stroller against the boats to the next bridge westward. That one — Columbus Ave., the largest movable bridge on the river system — was fun since you can actually stand on the shore path underneath as it heaves upwards. You’d probably not be surprised by how much crud comes raining down when you are standing right next to the base of the bridge fulcrum, though I’d wager you wouldn’t think of it until the last second. We had to huddle underneath the double-stroller’s sunshade to hide from the pummelling of street detritus: dirt, pebbles, cigarette butts, and other things probably left best unconsidered.
Only 18 boats at a time can be let up the river because of limited idling space between the bridges in the loop. That makes for a hectic season for the CDOT. Still, there’s nothing quite as cool as the sight of three consecutive bridges going up — except maybe watching the mix of horror and exhiliration on the face of a four-year-old who thinks the roadway is going to topple straight over on him.
Disruption to traffic? Of course! But well-heeled yacht-owners have rights too and since the the Chicago River is a federal waterway Da Mayor ain’t got no say.