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EJE Bridge 552 Replacement

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The Elgin, Joliet and Eastern (EJE) Railway Bridge Number 552 is considered the most frequently hit bridge in America. No other bridge is hit as often and with such predictability by water borne traffic. Modjeski and Masters (M&M) was selected by the EJE Railway Company (owned by Canadian National Railway) to create a strategy that would take EJE Railway Bridge Number 552 off the top of the hit list. The existing structure was comprised of four 154-ft through truss spans, including a vertical lift channel span. Our innovative team of structural, mechanical and electrical bridge designers was tasked with increasing the horizontal navigational clearance of the channel lift span from 120-ft to 300-ft. 

The solution: to design a new 348-ft vertical lift bridge to replace three of the existing spans and increase the vertical clearance to 56-ft. The new bridge was aligned such that one of the existing truss spans could remain in service, thereby minimizing project cost. To help project stakeholders visualize the new structure, our in-house visualization staff created a photo-realistic rendering of the design. We developed an accurate and detailed 3-D model directly from final design plans. 

With the final design and renderings complete, construction of the bridge commenced in 2010. To build the new lift bridge without impacting river traffic, the contractor devised a temporary erection and launching runway allowing the 1,100-ton span to be operational in 84 hours. Construction services included office support and field monitoring during construction of the replacement bridge. The project was successfully completed in 2011.

Bridge Geometry
Main Span 348 feet
Horizontal Clearance 300 feet
Vertical Clearance 56 feet
Tracks on Structure Two railroad tracks

The EJ&E Bridge is currently the biggest safety concern for ship traffic on the nearly 300 mile long Illinois River. Ensuring the safe transit of goods up and down this critical national waterway is vital to the economy of Illinois, the Midwest and beyond. This important bridge project will quickly put people to work, enhance navigation and improve safety along our nation's waterways.

-Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL)