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Wacker Drive
St ruc tura l and Durab i l i t y Stud i es for Recons t ruc t i on
Based on the findings of an earlier WJE investigation, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) concluded that the badly deteriorated
Wacker Drive Viaduct needed to be rebuilt using high-performance concrete. In addition to developing and testing concrete mix designs, WJE studied the
durability of virtually all structural elements and details. WJE also designed and tested a full-size prototype to evaluate structural performance. During
construction, WJE engineers were on site to help assure that the high-performance concrete met specifications.
In the broadest terms, CDOT hired WJE to ensure that the city’s $173 million investment would last one hundred years. This project is an excellent
example of the practical application of WJE’s construction materials research and testing. WJE was subsequently hired to develop and carry out a
long-term health-monitoring program for the viaduct.
Notes of Interest
• In 1909, architects Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett
drew up a plan to improve traffic flow in Chicago, and
presented it to the Commercial Club of Chicago. One of the
key components of the plan was a two-level roadway
along the river. Charles H. Wacker, chairman of the Chicago
Plan Commission, expressed strong support for the idea.
When the original roadway was completed in 1926, it was
namedWacker Drive, in honor of the chairman.
• The primary characteristics of the high performance
concrete mix for this project were defined as follows: early
age strength of 2,500-3,000 psi in twelve to sixteen hours;
ultimate strength of 6,000 psi at twenty-eight days; good
workability, placeability, and finishability; and an extended
service life in a harsh environment.
• Notable movies featuringWacker Drive include
Batman Begins, The Fugitive, and The Blues Brothers.
WJE 50 Years