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Despite Warnings, Many Brown Line Commuters Unaware Of Upcoming Bridge Work

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Brown Line, Wells Street Bridge

A CTA Brown Line train crosses the Wells Street bridge over the Chicago River. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Riders have been warned for weeks, but apparently only now are some beginning to think about how they’ll get around, even though work to rebuild the Wells Street bridge over the Chicago River will cut off the Brown Line’s access to the Loop for 10 days.

The project began Friday night.

“I can swim,” joked one rider, named Rick. “One way or another it will work.”

CTA has hosted news conferences, put out press releases, posted a YouTube video, made loudspeaker announcements at stations, and erected detailed signs listing travel options. But WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts found that, for many, none of it has sunk in.

“All I heard about was a Red Line going to a Green Line and I haven’t heard about any Brown Line issues,” said student Maggie Mikula, who professed ignorance and said she had seen nothing, even though, as she spoke, she was less than five feet from a sandwich board sign detailing travel options for the construction period, which will run through March 11 and then occur again beginning April 26.

DePaul University broadcasting student Katie Paul said the only source she’s had for information was university e-mails, and not CTA.

“I saw signs for that just as I was getting off the train now,” she said. “It’s a little confusing.”

Some are saying it’s very confusing.

“It does switch up the day for me,” complains Brown Line rider Dee Hutton.

But fellow rider Dennis Austin, Sr. wasn’t worried. “You got the Red Line,” he says, “You got the Blue Line, you got the Yellow Line, got any line you want to get down to the Loop.”

Details Of Brown Line Changes

(Some Brown Line trains run from Kimball and stop at the Merchandise Mart. During rush hour, others will switch to Red Line tracks at Fullerton and make stops until Roosevelt. Note the brown hash lines along Red Line route. The destination signs on these trains will read “Roosevelt” on a red background. Overnight (after 10 p.m.), trains will stop at Chicago Avenue.)

Wells_Street_Bridge_Map

Because of track reconstruction, trains will not operate south of the Merchandise Mart station on the Brown Line. Two of every three Brown Line trains during peak periods will operate through the State Street subway, and will terminate and turn at Roosevelt Road. Every third train will continue south on the Brown Line to the Merchandise Mart station. No Purple Line express trains will operate next week. All riders will have to change to and from the Red Line at Howard.

A bus shuttle will be put in place linking the Armitage station with the Clark/Lake and Washington/Wells stations. Trains will circle the Loop during rush periods.

Free Shuttle Bus Route

Brown_Line_Shuttle_Cropped

Off-peak, Brown Line trains will operate only to the Chicago/Franklin or Merchandise Mart stops, depending on the hour. Extra service will be offered on a handful of intersecting bus lines.

There also will be bus service available on the No. 37 Sedgwick and No. 37A Sedgwick (rush hour) during the bridge shutdown.

No. 37 Sedgwick Bus Map

Sedgwick_No._37_Cropped

No. 37A Sedgwick Bus Map RUSH HOUR

Sedgwick_No_37A_Rush_Hour

Basically, commuters will have to allow for extra time during the 18-day bridge closure. CTA officials also suggest using buses or the Blue Line if possible.

CTA will have customer service representatives at affected stations. It is warning riders to prepare for big crowds at peak hours and delays in service.

In addition to the bridge work, the CTA will rebuild its junction at Lake/Wells, known as Tower 18, a crossing that for many years was the busiest rail junction in the world and remains among the busiest.

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