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Park Ridge mayor demands bridge repairs

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The mayor of northwest suburban Park Ridge said that a major railroad is playing "Russian Roulette" with his residents. He's now demanding the Union Pacific fix a bridge that has been dropping chunks of concrete on cars.

"Union Pacific is aware that there's a problem, and God help them if somebody's driving underneath that and gets killed," said Dave Schmidt, Park Ridge Mayor.

Mayor Schmidt said the village has been trying for years to get the railroad to do something about the crumbling bridge that crosses over Touhy Avenue at Busse Highway.

Residents have reported small rocks and pieces of concrete hitting their cars.

"It was scary. We didn't know if it was a gunshot that hit our window," said Jennifer Anton, a victim of the bridge's crumbling infrastructure.

The problem took on new urgency last month when FOX 32 News reported the story of Park Ridge resident Jennifer Anton, whose windshield nearly broke from a piece of falling debris as she was driving under the bridge with her teenage daughter.

"[It] coulda' been worse. If it would have hit down more by the middle of the windshield, it could have shattered the whole windshield…[my daughter] was sitting in the passenger seat," said Anton.

On Wednesday, Mayor Schmidt sent an angry letter to the Union Pacific and board members of Metra and Pace, demanding that the railroad outline an action plan to fix the bridge within 30 days.

"It's like Russian Roulette in a way. You never know when you're gonna' be the one that's underneath there when a particularly large piece of concrete comes down. People shouldn't have to worry about that," Mayor Schmidt added.

A Union Pacific spokesman said they've performed three inspections on the bridge since the most recent incident. Also, over the weekend crews removed loose concrete from several locations.

However, when FOX 32 checked the bridge out Thursday, we found there is still a gaping hole over the roadway that hasn't been patched, as well as a pile of loose gravel and rocks just a few feet away.

"That borders on criminal negligence as far as I'm concerned," Mayor Schmidt said.

The Union Pacific spokesman told FOX 32 News that they are taking the situation seriously and are keeping the village informed of their findings, as well as any work that will be performed on the bridge.

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