Ruby Street bridge in Joliet reopened

Bridge was closed May 3 for emergency repairs

The Ruby Street bridge in downtown Joliet, closed for emergency repairs on May 3, was reopened by mid-afternoon on Tuesday. May 14, 2024.

The Ruby Street bridge in downtown Joliet was reopened by mid-afternoon Tuesday.

The bridge will close again, likely sometime in June, for planned upgrades expected to take about two months.

The current closure was done May 3 because of mechanical problems with the center lock that connects and disconnects the two leafs of the drawbridge when they rise to allow barge traffic to pass on the Des Plaines River.

The problem occurred as the Illinois Department of Transportation was making plans to close the bridge for the scheduled two-month maintenance project. But IDOT wanted to reopen the bridge as soon as the center lock could be repaired, spokeswoman Maria Castaneda said.

“There was never any intent to close it long-term unless we had to,” Castaneda said. “The repairs have been made.”

IDOT twice has pushed back the start date for the two-month upgrade, which was originally scheduled to start on April 22 and then rescheduled for May 13.

An outdated sign at the Ruby Street bridge on Tuesday indicates a closure for scheduled maintenance that now has been pushed back to an undetermined date in June. May 14, 2024.

The new date has not been set but will likely be in June, Castaneda said.

The Ruby Street bridge carries Route 53 in and out of downtown Joliet, making it a major route for truck drivers and motorists.

Its shutdown came at a time when traffic using the Cass Street bridge heading west already was constricted because of lane closures approaching that bridge.

Traffic at times has been backed up for blocks approaching the bridges for traffic heading west out of downtown while the Ruby Street bridge was closed.

Westward traffic was backed up for blocks in downtown Joliet on Friday trying to get across the Des Plaines River with the Ruby Street bridge closed and lanes reduced at the Cass Street bridge. May 10, 2024.

One alternative route across the Des Plaines River using the Brandon Road bridge, which is outside downtown and in Joliet Township, has been shutoff due to repairs at that drawbridge that date back to last year.

Castaneda said the Brandon Road bridge repairs are expected to take as long as another year.

Repair crews determined that motors on the Brandon Road bridge need to be replaced, she said.

Because of the age of the bridges, which date back to the 1930s, replacements parts typically need to be built new and that is the case with the Brandon Road bridge motor replacements, Castaneda said.