CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Construction workers are wrapping up the new northbound Mile Long Bridge project on the Tri-State Tollway and, weather-permitting, it is scheduled to open to traffic next week.
"Look at this beauty here," said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Jose Alvarez standing on the new northbound Mile Long Bridge in the southwest suburbs.
The old bridge was built more than 60 years ago. The new bridge is expected to last 100 years. Engineers said the reason the new Mile Long Bridge should last longer is because it uses stainless steel rebar and has half as many concrete pillars holding it up.
The new bridge has 26 pillars compared to 53 pillars on the old bridge. That means fewer spans between pillars and less maintainence needed because there will be fewer joints connecting those spans.
The new bridge also has more than five million pounds of stainless steel rebar. Corrosion of rebar is another source of maintenance problems in construction, but that's not expected to be a problem now.
Starting in early 2021, the current northbound Mile Long Bridge will be torn down and be replaced by a new bridge, which will become the southbound bridge. That's expected to be completed in 2023.
Wednesday is the target day for opening the new northbound bridge to traffic.
The new bridge cost nearly $185 million to build. The entire project, tearing down two 4,800 foot long bridges and building two new ones is expected to cost $500 million.