McDowell Bridge Opens

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The McDowell Grove Forest Preserve is now more accessible than ever, thanks to the new bridge at the entrance to the forest preserve.

The previous bridge was built in the 1930’s and was only wide enough for one lane of traffic. Pedestrians needed to use the same path as cars, and large vehicles like fire trucks or waste management trucks could not pass due to weight restrictions.

“When this bridge was originally built in the 30’s it had a very low weight limit, obviously,” said President of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Joe Cantore. “And while it was sturdy and useful for all those years, back in the 30’s they couldn’t foresee the different types of traffic we were going to have.”

The new bridge has room for two lanes of traffic as well as a pedestrian and bicycle footpath.

“The best part about the pedestrian-bicycle pathway is that it’s totally separate from the vehicular traffic,” said Mary Lou Wehrli, Fifth District Commissioner of the Forest Preserve. “It’s separated by a strong, steel fence. It’s got a wide path so that the multi-use of bicyclers, hikers – everyone can find a safe space, especially if they remember to say, ‘on your left’.”

Another major change from the previous design is the lack of support pillars.

The new bridge is a clear-span design that uses seven 66-ton concrete beams that cross the river instead of pillars that enter the water. This prevents debris buildup under the bridge during times of flooding and is also easier for boaters to navigate.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.