Kankakee River ice dam closes Warner Bridge

by A.J.W. Ewers

Ice floes on the Kankakee River from this abnormally harsh winter have caused an excessive amount of ice blockage on the river.

Ice floes on the Kankakee River from this abnormally harsh winter have caused an excessive amount of ice blockage on the river.

The ice blockage, as seen from Warner Bridge north of Bourbonnais, IL, extends as far as the eye can see.

The ice blockage, as seen from Warner Bridge north of Bourbonnais, IL, extends as far as the eye can see.

Curious onlookers observe the recent freezing on the Kankakee River.

Curious onlookers observe the recent freezing on the Kankakee River.

For the first time in more than 30 years, an ice dam on the Kankakee River has caused Kankakee County authorities to close down Warner Bridge on Sunday, drawing onlookers from all over to see the anomaly.

An increase of ice floes formed by the rapidly melting snow have caused ice floes to become tightly and jaggedly packed together to form the dam that is now endangering the bridge. The bridge, which is a main thoroughfare between Illinois routes 102 and 113, was shut down because of structural danger that the extensive ice dam brings, Kankakee County Engineer Mark Rogers told the Daily Journal.

Although the bridge is closed to vehicular traffic for the time being, it has not stopped local residents from coming out in the cold to view the sight. The ice, which extends beyond what can be seen from the bridge, is a rugged scene that many residents have not laid eyes upon before. The ice dam is the worst that it has been since 1982 – the last time that the bridge was closed because of ice.

“To see the sun shining and the ice built up like this, it’s just amazing me,” Joliet resident Melissa Rathbun said.

The 1982 bridge closure cost nearly $125,000 to repair the damage that the ice dam caused. It is not yet clear when the bridge will be reopened according to state engineers who visited the bridge at Rogers’ request Monday.

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