Ford City Drive Bridge
In 1944, the Federal government built the Ford City Drive Bridge and interchange, along with a companion structure on Cicero Avenue to the west, to assist with the large amount of traffic generated from shift changes and other activity at the Dodge-Chicago Plant.
The bridge served traffic over Pulaski Road, and was instrumental in bringing traffic to and from the plant during World War II, and shoppers postwar, but has in recent decades become blighted and does not serve a significant amount of traffic anymore.
The bridge is so intertwined with the history of the area that when explaining its history, that its almost easy to forget about. This should have qualified the bridge for historic status, and could have been rehabbed, however as of late 2020, it has been demolished. Despite its demolishment, its still easily viewable on Google Maps.
|Image: Nathan Holth, 2011 via HistoricBridges.
The Dodge-Chicago Plant was used to build aircraft engines for the B-29 bomber as part of the war effort for World War II. Construction of the plant began in 1942 and was in full operation by early 1944.
|Dodge Chicago Plant Entrance via Matt Stone Cars
The plant was constructed between Cicero and Kostner Avenues and extended from 72nd St to 76th St.
After construction was finished, several thousand people worked 9-hour shifts, six days a week at the plant. The interchanges at Cicero and Pulaski were built to assist in managing the increase in traffic from the shift changes and plant deliveries.
By 1945, the large white building lay dormant. Once the war ended, the Dodge-Chicago plant was leased to Tucker Car Corporation and later utilized by the Ford Motor Company. It was again brought online by the Korean War to be used in much the same capacity for that war.
During the late 1950's and early 1960's, the now once again dormant building was to become a symbol of the change in America during the time, and the area proposed to become a shopping center, which would become Ford City Mall.
Today, part of the building is the corporate headquarters of Tootsie Roll Industries and the other part is the Ford City Mall; both of which are mainly served from Cicero Avenue instead of Ford City Drive. This led to the bridge being demolished. In its reasoning for demolishing the bridge as opposed to rehabbing it, IDOT argued that it "no longer serves intended purpose” and today is "a public safety hazard,” as crumbling concrete from the structure growing threat to the well-being of motorists and passengers alike.
|Roger Deschler Photo during demolishment in October 2020. Via BridgeHunter.
History via IDOT's Pulaski Rd at Ford City Drive Planning Presentation.
In late 2020, this bridge was demolished. While it's sad to see any piece of infrastructure go, I am not surprised it was demolished given the condition it was in, and the fact that the road handles very little traffic today.
Thanks as always for reading!