Commuters face traffic, train headaches

March 31, 2008 4:02:55 PM PDT
Two construction projects that impact both Chicago's rails and roads translate into a hectic commute for many. Construction is underway on the Edens Expressway and the Chicago Transit Authority is running on a three-track system southbound on the city's North Side from Belmont to Fullerton.

The CTA's construction project impacts three lines- the Brown, Red and Purple, which accommodate as many as 185,000 passengers a day. CTA officials are warning southbound passengers toward the Loop to allow time for delays, especially during the morning rush hour. And, expect crowded cars.

"It's going to be a monster. I have to be here 7 in the morning," said Latanya Love, CTA rider.

"I'm retired, so it doesn't affect me all that much. It's annoying. But they seem to be moving along," said Brent Hoffman, CTA rider.

"I generally leave about half an hour before class starts, but I'm going to leave earlier," said Charles Snelling, CTA rider.

The expansion project will add elevators to the Belmont and Fullerton stations to ease access for the physically challenged. The CTA will operate longer Brown Line trains and provide extra bus service to ease the impact.

"The one tip I can give folks, because the Brown Line cars are going from six to eight cars, people aren't used to it yet. The first and last cars this morning were pretty empty," said Lydia Murray, CTA Chief of Staff.

Another busy time is on Game Day as people head to Wrigley Field.

"We'll see how it works. The game is only two stops from here," said Scott Livingston, CTA

CTA riders said they are prepared for the construction to last until the summer of 2009.

Edens Expressway work ties up traffic

Motorists are also being warned of traffic delays while construction gets underway on the Edens Expressway. The rehab project closes one lane in each direction until late summer. It includes patching six decks and surfacing all three lanes of the 14-mile expressway from Lawrence Avenue to Lake Cook Road.

"You can look at the average times to double," said Clayton Harris, I-DOT.

IDOT advises drivers to avoid the Edens whenever possible- and expect delays, especially at rush hour. Officials recommend carpooling and mass transit as alternatives.

"We are encouraging people to use mass transit- like Metra, PACE and CTA," said Harris.

The lane configuration will take several days, according to IDOT, and during Stage One, cars will be allowed to drive on the right lanes and shoulder. During Stage 2, the configuration will flip and cars will use the left and center lane.


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