Lake Lift Bridge
This unusual bridge replaced a 1905 steel
swing bridge which had in turn replaced a wooden
swing bridge. Designed by Hazelet and Erdal (of
Chicago) and built by the American Bridge
Division of the U.S. Steel Co., the Portage Lake
Lift Bridge opened for automobile traffic in late
December 1959 and was formally dedicated with a
large celebration on June 25, 1960.
The double-deck, vertical-life bridge
originally bore railroad traffic on the lower
deck (which could also accomodate automobiles)
and highway traffic (US-41) on the upper deck.
Rail traffic ceased in 1982. Today the
vertical-lift span sits in the intermediate level
nine months out of the year while vehicular
traffic crosses the old railroad deck allowing
most small boats to pass under the bridge. In the
winter the bridge is lowered and made accessible
to snowmobiles and skiers, while vehicles cross
on the upper deck. Although most boats using the
waterway today can pass under the bridge at its
intermediate level, it is still raised to its
highest level 450 to 500 times during the year.
Length of largest span: 269.0 ft.
Total length: 1,310.1 ft.
Deck width: 53.8 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 14.2 ft.
Questions or comments about