Chicago commuters who take the "L" into the Loop can breathe a sigh of relief. After a nine-day construction sprint, the Wells Street Bridge is back open and CTA trains are running again.
In that time, crews worked on barges for 12-hour shifts, even during the snowstorm, to replace half of the 91-year-old bridge. The project was mammoth by construction standards, but the CTA said they got it done on time and on budget.
"We made a lot of adjustments on that first day," Chicago Department of Transportation commissioner Gabe Klein said, "adjusting traffic flow here, a no-turn on red, various other tweaks and changes that made [the affected commute] better. We also found that people took the train all the way in instead of the bus shuttles."
The project caused some headaches for Brown Line commuters, but others said they didn't mind.
"Actually it's an opportunity to see parts of the city I don't usually see," one commuter said.
The project is not officially done yet, though. The north side of the bridge still needs to be replaced over a nine-day period at the end of April.
"We definitely learned a few things," Klein said. "We learned that we had it right. Now we really just got to keep tightening it up to replace the other half of the bridge."
Commuters can see the work that was done. The new portion of the bridge is now grey while the older half of the bridge remains red for now. The entire bridge will be painted the iconic red again sometime this summer.
Until then, hang on for round two of construction.
"Advice for round two will be the same as the advice for this first phase," CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. "Leave extra commuting time. You won't have a normal commute during that week."