CHICAGO (STMW) — Preparation for spring construction on the CTA’s Red Line will lead to the shutdown of weekend service on the Ashland/63rd branch of the Green Line for three consecutive weekends beginning at 10 p.m. Friday.

The shutdown will affect stations at Ashland/63rd and Halsted, a statement from the CTA said.

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The line branch shutdowns will allow the CTA to prepare Green Line tracks for increased rail traffic during reconstruction of the Red Line South, which begins in May.

To assist passengers affected by the shutdowns, free bus shuttles will be provided during regular Green Line hours. The buses will connect the Ashland/63rd, Halsted and Garfield stations to the Red Line Garfield station.

Green Line service on the Cottage Grove branch, including the King and Cottage Grove stations, will be unaffected.

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Regular service was scheduled to resume at 4 a.m. Monday.

In addition to the four weekends of work, the branch could be shut down from Friday, April 19, at 10 p.m. until Monday, April 22, if needed, because of weather-related work delays.

The work will enable the Green Line to accommodate additional trains during the five-month period beginning May 19, when a $425 million initiative that will completely rebuild the Red Line between Cermak/Chinatown and 95th Street, the CTA said.

During that period, the Red Line between those South Side stations will be shut down and Red Line trains will operate on the elevated Green Line tracks south of Roosevelt to Ashland/63rd.

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(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)