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Madison Street Closes For Phase 2 Of Wacker Drive Project

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Wacker Drive

Madison Street is closing for Phase 2 of the Wacker Drive reconstruction project. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 07/05/11 3:21 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Madison Street is now closed between Canal and Franklin streets downtown, as Phase 2 of the Wacker Drive reconstruction project begins.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports

As CBS 2’s Kris Habermehl reports, the first phase of the project ended last week. It had kept Washington Street closed between Canal and Franklin streets for several months, as well as Wacker Drive between Lake and Randolph streets.

But while commuters have those streets back, they now face new headaches with the Madison Street closure. Buses on Madison Street – the #19 to the United Center, as well as the #20, #56, #60, and #157 CTA routes, have been rerouted. Several bus routes that do not run on Madison Street also have been rerouted.

WBBM Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports in all, 14 bus routes are affected. You can go to the CTA website for a map for more.

The new closure also impacts commuters who walk to Union Station and the Ogilvie Transportation Center.

Madison Street will be closed through December.

Normally, thousands of Metra commuters use the Madison Street bridge across the Chicago River to get to and from Union Station and Ogilvie. But with Madison Street closed for the next six months, there was some confusion and frustration for commuters on Tuesday as they searched for a detour.

As CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports, barriers were in place, signs were posted and construction had already begun hours before Tuesday’s afternoon rush, but that didn’t prevent problems for travelers who didn’t know about the Madison Street closure beforehand.

“We have too many bags, can’t get anywhere. It’s frustrating,” Texas resident Karla Jaramillo said after trying to find her way to Union Station to catch her Amtrak train home. “We came out of that corner, they didn’t let us cross the street so we had to walk around the whole building again.”

Loop worker Josh Nathan said, “Had I known, I probably would have taken a different route altogether.”

The closure will be a major inconvenience, not just for Metra and Amtrak passengers, but also for Loop workers who are used to being able to cross the river at will.

It also will have major impact on retailers in the shutdown zone, such as Crubm, a bakery and coffee shop on Madison Street. Foot traffic is the lifeblood of their business.

Manager Sara Fina said, “We get a ton of people that walk by us every single day, from Oglivie and Union Station, that get their daily coffee here. And people are a creature of habit and they’re going to be re-routed.”

Yet, others were ready to take it in stride.

Loop worker Susan Urbanczyk said the street closures for the Wacker Drive project are “not a big deal. It’s summer in Chicago, which means construction.”

The Wacker reconstruction began Jan. 3 and is proceeding south. After the newest phase is completed, crews will rebuild between Monroe and Van Buren streets. That will come next year.

A double-decker road along the Chicago River was part of Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan for Chicago. The east-west Wacker Drive was completed in 1926, replacing River Street and most of South Water Street, while the north-south leg was finished in 1954, replacing Market Street.

East-west Wacker Drive was rebuilt from Michigan Avenue to Randolph Street in 2001 and 2002.

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