Franklin Park watching its 32 bridges during heat waves
Joe Gapastione, owner of Al & Joes, 10348 W. Addison, Franklin Park, stands near the Mannheim Bridge. | Mark Lawton~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 3, 2012 6:04AM
FRANKLIN PARK — When it comes to bridges, the village’s superintendent of utilities is more concerned with what goes underneath than what goes on top.
“I worry about restriction of flow,” Joe Lauro said. “In normal conditions we have a lot of water going through the creeks. As dry as it is now, debris can get caught under there and it doesn’t flow.”
That, in turn, can lead to flooding in the area. So Lauro sends the summer help to the various bridges that go over Silver Creek and has them clean below them.
Once a year the village hires a structural engineer to check the nine bridges it has jurisdiction over. Along Silver Creek that includes bridges on Belmont, Franklin, Richard, Nevada and Scott Parker.
“Most of the bridges are in good shape,” Lauro said. “We might do minor repairs on guard rails.”
There are 32 bridges in Franklin Park, according to an IDOT website. Among those the federal government is responsible for 11 are along interstate 294 while Union Pacific is responsible for 8 with rail tracks. The county or state oversees the remainder.
Over on Addison Street, Joe Gapastione has looks at the Mannheim Road Bridge with a critical eye. Though he owns Al & Joes restaurant, 10348 W. Addison, at one time he was labor foreman of a company that built bridges.
“Prior to the reconstruction (two years ago), the bridge was in pretty bad shape,” Gapastione said.
He’s not worried about the bridge collapsing or a car breaking through the side and ending up on the roof of his restaurant. Instead, he’s concerned about pedestrians crossing the bridge.
“The sidewalk has no protection from the road,” Gapastione said. “I thought they would have a guardrail.”
Pasqua Carbonara, who’s worked at Al & Joes for 12 years, once saw a car chase along Addison that ended with a car slamming into the bridge.
Then there was the time she saw a guy jump. “He jumped off the ledge at the top of the stairs,” Carbonara said. “Two years ago. He landed on his back. We called 911. He looked like he was on something.”
Gapastione used to see people living under the bridge. “Hobos,” he said. “They used to get off the trains and stay there for a couple days.”