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Bridge Work To Make Commute A Headache For Brown, Purple Line Riders

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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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Updated 03/04/13 – 10:50 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – This morning’s commute might be a big hassle for thousands who depend on the CTA’s Brown and Purple lines. That’s because construction on the Wells Street Bridge is rerouting riders.

CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports work to replace the southern half of the Wells Street began Friday night, but Monday morning is the first major rush period for the project.

The bridge carries Brown Line and Purple Line trains into the Loop, but will be shut down through March 10 to complete the first phase of reconstruction of the Wells Street Bridge.

During the day, Brown Line trains will only run between Kimball and the Merchandise Mart. At night, trains will end at Chicago Avenue, to allow workers to make track improvements between Chicago and the Merchandise Mart.

Brown Line riders headed to the Loop will get off at Chicago, where free shuttles will take commuters into the Loop.

During the morning and evening rush hour only, one of every three Brown Line trains originating at Kimball will switch to the Red Line at Fullerton and run on the Red Line tracks until Roosevelt. (Those trains will run the same way in reverse from Roosevelt to Kimball–again during the rush hour.)

If you ride the Purple Line, all service will be halted south of Howard Street, where riders will have to transfer to the Red Line. Purple Line Express train service will be suspended.

As a result, Red Line trains on the North Side could also be more crowded than normal.

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

Free Shuttle Bus Route

Brown_Line_Shuttle_Cropped

Brown Line rider Doug Kraus didn’t know about the bridge work, and tried to board a train for the Loop at the Chicago station.

“It is a little annoying. I mean, I take train every morning,” he said.

He was on his way after being pointed to the waiting shuttle buses nearby.

Annie Litchfield said she was surprised at how easy her commute was on Monday, given the warnings she heard.

“I thought it was going to be a lot more crowded. It actually was less crowded than it normally is,” she said. “I left 10 minutes earlier, but it’s pretty good. They made announcements, and passed out fliers.”

For others, it took a little longer to get to work.

Danielle Hall said her commute was about 30 minutes longer than normal.

“It’s not good at all. I’m not liking it,” she said.

The CTA advised riders to plan their detours ahead of time.

“No matter what your destination, your commute is going to be longer,” CTA spokesman Brian Steele said.

CTA officials also suggest using buses or the Blue Line, if possible.

The CTA says it also will take advantage of the bridge construction to upgrade some tracks in the area around the Merchandise Mart.

This is just the first part of the Wells bridge shutdown. It’s happening again at the end of April for the north section of the bridge. It will be closed April 26 through May 5.

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