This rail line was built in 1888 by the Gardner, Coal City, and Northern Railway. This line was purchased by the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway in January 1891. The EJ&E was bought out by US Steel Corp in 1901. US Steel ran the railroad until it was spun off into a subsidiary called Transtar in 1988. Transtar was bought by the Canadian National Railway in in 2007 with the deal expected to close in mid-2008. Today, the rail line is abandoned just below the Illinois River, and the bridge serves a very low traffic volume to several heavy industries on the south side of the Illinois River.
The EJ&E bridge has the distinction of being the most accident-prone bridge in the United States. It was struck by navigation traffic 170 times between 1992 and 2001. The problem is that the lift span is very narrow, allowing for 120 feet of clearance. A tow that is 3 barges wide just barely fits through the bridge. The US Government is working to raise money to rebuild the bridge with a wider life span. In 2005, the US Coast Guard allocated $1.5-million to the bridge project. An additional $2-million is included in the 2008 US Coast Guard budget and $2.125-million is included in the 2009 Homeland Security budget for the EJ&E bridge, which brings the total allocated for the bridge project to $15-million.