Prepare for detours as you commute into the city this week. The second phase of a project to rebuild Chicago's Wells Street Bridge began over the weekend and continues through May 5.
The latest construction of the 91-year-old bridge marks the last round of work to replace the structure as well as the Chicago Transit Authority train tracks and equipment on the bridge. CTA train service on the Purple, Red and Brown lines will be affected.
"While train service will be interrupted, this is a great opportunity to fully restore the historic Wells Street Bridge," Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein said in a statement.
Riders of Brown Line trains will be most affected with only two of every three trains making it south of the Chicago River. Everyone else can take shuttle buses the rest of the way into the Loop.
Officials say this time around they are trying to make it easier for Brown Line commuters to find their way to work.
"All of the trains going into the subway will be on the inner track, which is typically the Red Line track, and all of the Brown Line trains going to Merchandise Mart will be on the outside track," CTA spokesman Brian Steele said. "That way when you're at Fullerton you know if you're going downtown past Merchandise Mart, the inner track is the place you want to be."
Still commuters are urged to allow extra travel time or find an alternate route.
The bridge was closed for nine days last month. During that time, crews worked on barges for 12-hour shifts, even during a snowstorm, to replace the first half of the bridge. The project was mammoth by construction standards, but the CTA said they got it done on time and on budget.
"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.
- TransitChicago.com: Bus Substitution Between Loop, Merchandise Mart