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Old 09-12-2018, 09:33 PM   #1
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Chicago and Bridge Clearance

I'm confused with the info I'm receiving on bridge clearance on the Chicago River and would appreciate some clarification.

I've heard that there's this Lockport Pool reference of 576.2 which matches up with the posted height of the bridge. Meaning that if the pool is at this level, then the 20 ft bridge has 20 ft clearance.

Then there's reference to a 2 foot correction which is very confusing and the river gage, equally confusing. And then there's the reference of up stream or down stream, and I have no clue which is which.

Seems like if the Chicago River flows backward down the Mississippi, at some point someone has to add water to the river to reverse the flow.

However, bottom line, how can I be SURE that I'll clear the lowest bridge on the Chicago River, at 17 feet. My air height is 16'4".
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Old 09-12-2018, 10:03 PM   #2
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You should be able to contact the lock that lowers you from lake Michigan into the Chicago river and ask them for the water level in the pool below the lock.

Ted
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Old 09-12-2018, 10:20 PM   #3
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You should be able to contact the lock that lowers you from lake Michigan into the Chicago river and ask them for the water level in the pool below the lock.

Ted
Ted, so what will that tell me? And how would I use that to be sure I'd clear the 17 ft bridge?

Thx
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Old 09-12-2018, 10:57 PM   #4
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There should be a height for the bridge based on a normal water level (don't know the correct term). The lock will have a water level scale for both Lake Michigan and the Chicago river. Typically a lock will tell you how much of a rise or drop to expect when locking. The scale on the Chicago river side should be referenced to the "normal water level ". So, if you ask the lock operator the water lever of the Chicago river, he will likely answer in inches above or below normal. Then you need to reference that to the low bridge. So, if he says the river level is 6" below normal, bridge clearances just improved by 6".

That lock is controlled by the Army Corps of engineers. They are usually very helpful with this kind of information. Here is a contact page for the Chicago district.

https://www.lrc.usace.army.mil/Contact/

Ted
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Old 09-13-2018, 07:27 AM   #5
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Ted,

That's my understanding.

Today the pool level in the Lockport Dam is 576.13. The reference is 576.2. So this would give me .07 inch greater clearance going under the bridge. Does this make sense?

However, I'm going to call the lock master to see what he says.
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Old 09-13-2018, 07:54 AM   #6
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I don't know how much it will help you, but I came down lake Michigan and stopped for a few days in Portage Indiana. The marina has the cheapest fuel on the lower part of the Lake and far cheaper than anything in the Chicago area. Fill up completely there including water and then I believe it was about 30 to 40 miles to the lock. On my boat, that's worth 3". Btw, the marina in Portage was very reasonable, extremely protected and there is a commuter train station within a 5 minute walk, that takes you to Chicago in 40 minutes or so depending on where you get off. The train was very inexpensive, runs till late in the evening, and allows you to site see Chicago without staying there.

Ted
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Old 09-13-2018, 09:10 AM   #7
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My air height is 16'4".
Are you certain about that? Assume that is with the mast and bimini lowered but your pic just looks like the air draft is higher.
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Old 09-13-2018, 10:40 AM   #8
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Are you certain about that? Assume that is with the mast and bimini lowered but your pic just looks like the air draft is higher.
That seems correct to me. I have rafted alongside one of those models and the top of the enclosure is abut the same as mine that I measured at 16 1/2 feet.
(Mast will probably have to be lowered.)
And I have been under a 17 foot bridge on the Champlain canal.
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Old 09-13-2018, 11:15 AM   #9
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If you're really concerned about the 17' bridge, then you can always take the alternate route with 19' 1" clearance.

Also, contact the nearest lockmaster or bridge tender to the fixed bridge and they can generally give you bridge clearance at the moment with no translation necessary. They've translated many times.
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Old 09-13-2018, 12:09 PM   #10
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Ted,



That's my understanding.



Today the pool level in the Lockport Dam is 576.13. The reference is 576.2. So this would give me .07 inch greater clearance going under the bridge. Does this make sense?



However, I'm going to call the lock master to see what he says.


That 576.2 datum point is feet above sea level. So at 576.13, you have another .07 feet, or about .8” more clearance.

The lock master will definitely be your best contact for the most recent information.
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Old 09-13-2018, 06:09 PM   #11
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I’ve been to Chicago twice since 2014. My air clearance is 16’10” and never had any problems with bridges. A lot of bridges have no tender, I couldn’t raise anyone on the vhf, while waiting the bridge opened. After that the others opened shortly after I arrived. I think they use cameras and open remotely.
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Old 09-14-2018, 08:00 AM   #12
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I don't know how much it will help you, but I came down lake Michigan and stopped for a few days in Portage Indiana. The marina has the cheapest fuel on the lower part of the Lake and far cheaper than anything in the Chicago area. Fill up completely there including water and then I believe it was about 30 to 40 miles to the lock. On my boat, that's worth 3". Btw, the marina in Portage was very reasonable, extremely protected and there is a commuter train station within a 5 minute walk, that takes you to Chicago in 40 minutes or so depending on where you get off. The train was very inexpensive, runs till late in the evening, and allows you to site see Chicago without staying there.

Ted
Good info, but I came down on the WI side and topped off in Port Washington at $2.95, cheap for todays prices. However, looking for a good fuel price sw of Chicago or Peoria. They all seem very high.

As for the bridge clearance, called the Lockport Lockmaster and he pretty well explained in and the level looks good for a run today.

thx for the help!
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Old 09-14-2018, 09:40 AM   #13
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Good info, but I came down on the WI side and topped off in Port Washington at $2.95, cheap for todays prices. However, looking for a good fuel price sw of Chicago or Peoria. They all seem very high.
Check Hammond IN. It's close to the Calumet River.
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Old 09-14-2018, 09:24 PM   #14
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Seevee, are you sure about your air height? My info on the 400 shows 19'2". My 390 shows 18'8''.
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Old 09-15-2018, 11:07 AM   #15
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Seevee, are you sure about your air height? My info on the 400 shows 19'2". My 390 shows 18'8''.
John
Johnma,

Pretty sure and I've measured it, but hard to do and get within 6 in. But 16'4" is the number I'm working with, over the canopy with antennas and radar down.

Went thru yesterday and cleared everything by 2 ft or more.... non issue. I just didn't feel real comfortable about how the bridge height was determined.
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Old 09-15-2018, 11:09 AM   #16
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Check Hammond IN. It's close to the Calumet River.

Jeff,

Thx but that was a bit out of our way and the tanks weren't dry enough. Even at the Joliet wall, I've got 3/4 of a tank so hoping to perhaps find a cheap fuel stop either side of Peoria or so.... but if there's a real bargain, will top off anywhere.

Thx
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Old 09-15-2018, 01:31 PM   #17
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Jeff,

Thx but that was a bit out of our way and the tanks weren't dry enough. Even at the Joliet wall, I've got 3/4 of a tank so hoping to perhaps find a cheap fuel stop either side of Peoria or so.... but if there's a real bargain, will top off anywhere.

Thx
Also, let's keep in mind that most boats have as much as a 6" variation based on load. Full tanks, several passengers and you'll approach your minimum air draft and maximum water draft.
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Old 09-15-2018, 01:33 PM   #18
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Plan your fuel stops well. The further you get away from Chicago, the fewer the choices there are. If you're headed to the Tennessee river, the new dock in Paducah, KY is a great stop and has fuel etc. Paducah is also a good town to stop at for a day or two. If you have the range to go from either Grafton or Alton to Paducah, I would use those fuel stops. Let me know if you need help with anchorages between those areas.

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Old 09-15-2018, 02:17 PM   #19
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Good info, but I came down on the WI side and topped off in Port Washington at $2.95, cheap for todays prices. However, looking for a good fuel price sw of Chicago or Peoria. They all seem very high.

As for the bridge clearance, called the Lockport Lockmaster and he pretty well explained in and the level looks good for a run today.

thx for the help!
Alton, IL Marina, $2.90/gal.
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Old 09-15-2018, 05:11 PM   #20
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No diesel between Peoria and Grafton.
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