Could the 606’s Expansion Really Happen?

Projects come and projects go.  That’s that nature of life in a big city, and the reason why we greet so many big projects with skepticism.

There are certain content aggregators in town who immediately latch on to any e-mailed announcement and present it to their readers as if the project has merit, funding, and a chance in Hell of becoming reality.  All it takes is a free blogging account sprinkled with buzzwords and pretty much any “advocacy group” can suddenly be treated as if they are legitimate organizations representing the city, its developers, bankers, real estate owners, and stakeholders, instead of the three guys in a two-flat basement that they really are.

In other words, some web sites will present anything as “news” in order to get your clicks.

The proposed westward expansion of the elevated 606 linear urban park is one of those projects that is slowly making its way from “interesting notion” to “good idea” to “actual project,” in large part because it has the public backing of some key players.  Among them, Sterling Bay — the prolific West Town real estate developer that has big dreams for the 606.  Small problem, though — it doesn’t actually own any of the land to make it happen.

Slide from 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins public presentation in June, 2016

Slide from 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins public presentation in June, 2016

But the 606 has an even better champion: Second Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins.  He’s been itching to make the 606 scratch through his turf, and isn’t shy about letting people know.  He’s even got a hankering to turn Z6 into the lynchpin of the whole project.

Chicago, Milwaukee, & St. Paul Z-6 Bridge

Chicago, Milwaukee, & St. Paul Z-6 Bridge (Courtesy of Patrick McBriarty)

We’ve written about Z6 several times before.  Most recently in March of 2015 when our Patrick McBrairty explained that among bridge enthusiasts and civil engineering types, the bobtail swing bridge is considered a mechanical wonder.  Moreover, Z6 is exactly what is needed to carry the 606 over the North Branch of the Chicago River.

One small complication is that Z6 is still in use.  But then, CDOT already has experience mixing a semi-active rail bridge with pedestrian hike/bike trails not too far away, where it combined the two uses into the Cherry Avenue Bridge about eight years ago.

Mr. Hopkins was on WGN Radio’s Outside The Loop program last weekend talking about the 606 expansion. You can listen here.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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